Monday, we sat down with Rhapsody President Jon Irwin to get a little more insight behind why the company bought fellow online music service Napster. As part of the acquisition, Rhapsody acquired all Napster subscribers and other IP assets from Napster owner BestBuy. Meanwhile, Best Buy received a minority stake in Rhapsody.
Irwin tells us he looks forward to bringing the Napster subscriber base over to Rhapsody. Rhapsody has around 800,000 subscribers and Napster reportedly has around half that. Irwin declined to give us specific subscriber numbers, but says that the combined company will release this number n the next few months.
In terms of what Rhapsody will actually integrate from Naspter, Irwin says that the music streaming service will be looking to tie in what Napster has done in the connected device area. Check out the video below for his comments on Rhapsody’s recent Facebook integration, and more.Hi, this is Lena Rowe with TechCrunch TV. We're here today with Jon Irwin, president of Rhapsody which just acquired Napster today, big news for you guys, big news in the online music world.
Absolutely, thanks for having me on. We are very excited on the deal that we signed today and we look forward to bringing the Napster subscribers over to Rhapsody and continuing to deliver them a great digital music experience.
Yeah, so tell me a little bit about the sort of meeting behind this acquisition. How many users does Napster add to Rhapsody's service?
Well, we're not going to come out and talk about the specific numbers at this time. Rhapsody, a couple months back, announced that we had gone over 800,000 subscribers just as our stand alone business. We'll come back and let everybody know where we stand as a combined entity.
Absolutely, I know that as part of deal you're acquiring some of the IP, the subscriber base. Specifically relating to the IP, what technologies are you going to be integrating and looking at with Rhapsody?
Well, I think what's exciting it's not only, you know, the Rhapsody name and and trademarks that go with that, but the technology, we're in the same business. So if there are certain ways that Napster has approached a problem from a music platform perspective. We can integrate best of breed with what Napsters done and what Rhapsody has done in our experience over the last 10 years.
So, you know, the result is going to be a very powerful and really, best of breed on demand subscription music delivery platform.
Can you give me and example of one way that you feel that Napster is sort of you know, has kind of better served its users in the music space. Well again, without getting into specifics. I think it's, I'm speaking more specifically about around Rhapsody and how we approach the market is we've really focused on providing music discovery tools for our Rhapsody members to help them navigate their way through 13 million tracks.
So we've been very focused on providing programming and editorial tools for our members to discover new music. We've recently launched a set of social features that we're very excited about, and in being integrated with Facebook to allow customers to explore music with like minded individuals.
If I like country music and I find somebody else who does you know maybe another tastes that they have are aligned.
We've been very active as well on the mobile space and tying in with what Napster has done on the connected TV side, consumer electronics side, we're going to continue to provide access to our customers across any connected device so they can really have their music wherever, whenever they want it.
Right, so it sounds, like you know Napsters bringing a lot of technology around the connected device area. You guys just obviously just launched a pretty significant integration with Facebook. Curious, you know, to sort of go into some background on that news. How do you feel about Facebook as a platform for Rhapsody compared to another sort of platform like Apple or Amazon?
Well, I think Facebook is again as a partner, it's anytime you have a social network or platform that has 800 million active users. It's something you want to be part of.
So what that gives our members the ability to do now is their music taste, if they want to make those music tastes public and what they're listening to. Their friends on Facebook can see what they've actually listened to and then enter in an experience with Rhapsody to listen to that same music.
So it really kicks off the social sharing experience, which is again complimentary to our other discovery mechanisms that we push. I have available for our customers such as internet radio, our programming and editorial group, and the systematic recommendations that we deliver to customers just based on their listening history.
So it creates a very nice set of music discovery tools.
Yeah, I'm curious. What do you think of Mark Zuckerberg and and what he said about music. Sort of the idea that it's being freely shared, is better for the music industry than being locked behind a pay wall. And I'm curious, how do you feel about that, being in the music industry, obviously with this recent Facebook integration.
Do you agree with that?
Well I think, again, I think the power of, you know, social networking in driving discovery of new music is incredibly important. I think it's a very important part of music discovery, but again it doesn't stand on it's own. I also think it's important to highlight that the service that's being provided.
It's not free music forever. It's all of the service providers that are part of the Facebook platform. It's about providing music fans and your friends the ability to discover music, make them aware of the capabilities of on-demand music up to and including what Rhapsody meekly provides during that free Facebook experience is the access to music on your mobile device.
So bringing that awareness to music to eventually move those folks that want to pay for music, it's a path to help them get there. But we fundamentally believe that you need to expose the customer to not only the social aspects but to the mobile aspects of the music in order to make that successful transition to a paying subscriber.
Yeah, I'm...so I'm curious, you know, where does this Napster acquisition put Rhapsody in terms of being competitive with some of the other music streaming services out there like Spotify, which has obviously gained a lot of attention with it's launch in the US? How do you feel like this acquisition helps give you guys the competitive edge?
Well, again, it's even after Spotify's entry into the market and relationship with Facebook, our 800,000 customers prior to our deal with Metro PCS, prior to the acquisition of the Napster subscribers that we announced today.
We are still by far the largest provider of on-demand subscription services, paid subscription services in the United States. Our focus is going to be to continue to invest our resources in improving that service, helping our customers, and discover new music, and enjoy the experience on every device.
Whether it's their consumer electronic devices at home, their are mobile devices. That's where our resources are going to be put. As opposed to focusing them on advertising effectiveness and trying to support a free offering. We want to delver value to our members right away.
Right, so that leads well into my next question, sort of. What's the next step forward, now, this joint company of Rhapsody and Napster? What's your next focus? What we're gonna continue to focus on select if there are select acquisitions available that we can make to bring people into the Rhapsody member family.
We're gonna certainly pursue those. In addition, as I mentioned our deal with Metro PCS where Metro PCS customers buy an Android phone can get it included. Rhapsody Unlimited Music included with their billing plan. We're gonna look for additional partnerships that we believe bring customers to the Rhapsody experience and where Rhapsody can add value to those subscriber basis.
So, it's more growth at the end day, that's where we're headed.
Right, and this idea of having connected devices and being everywhere on all platforms, that's correct?
It's music. Music needs to be ubiquitous. If you going to have access to this catalog and it is your music in the cloud it needs to be accessible anywhere, at any time, on any device.
Well, John. I think that's a good way to end. Thank you so much for joining us. Congrats on the acquisition. And stay tuned for more from Rhapsody and Napster.
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