Napster looks to compete with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music by leveraging partnerships

Despite its name remaining one of the most loaded terms in Internet history, Napster’s mission to go straight still chugs along, and the now-music streaming service’s latest plays are partnerships with Sprint and Lufthansa Systems.

The alliances are the latest in a series with major companies, including Movistar, Vodafone Greece and Vodafone Netherlands, and evince a creative modus operandi on the streaming site’s part: integration of its services through business-to-business transactions, which then provide a suitable arena to introduce them to consumers. The evolution of the approach could, and possibly should, involve an investment into the Internet of Things.

“Napster may have had a rocky start, but since being acquired by Rhapsody International Inc. 3 years ago, Napster has had a smoother path as a brand,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis. “These partnerships will improve consumer awareness of the more than 40 million song catalog available through Rhapsody, which also happens to be the first company to offer subscription streaming music services over a decade ago”

Mobile streaming
The move will allow Napster to integrate with Sprint to bring Napster’s Listener Network and library to mobile customers on Sprint’s network. Sprint customers on iOS or Android will receive one month of Napster free, then can add Napster to their Sprint bills for $9.99 a month.

Sprint’s prepaid arms, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have also been added Napster to their lineup of data free music streaming providers. Customers using Napster are able to stream unlimited music without using high speed data on their plans.

In Germany, Napster has partnered with airline technology company Lufthansa systems to bring music and audiobooks to airline passengers, a continuation of a partnership which as brought Napster content to more than 70 Eurowings aircrafts.

Napster’s corporate partners include Lufthansa Systems

Before and after
It feels strange to call Napster, the name of the landmark peer-to-peer file sharing service that simultaneously necessitated the digital music revolution and irreparably damaged the music industry it was predicated on, a fledgling company. But that it is, specifically in its current form, which is essentially the Rhapsody music service delivered to consumers in a Napster brand encasement.

And, in this new form, the music streaming company finds itself with more formidable competition than Kazaa or Bearshare: Spotify and Apple Music have a firm hold on the music streaming market.

“It is difficult to tell how effective Rhapsody International is in monetizing their subscription service, as it’s a privately held company,” Ms. Troutman said. “The new partnerships are consistent with previous strategic partnerships.

“This expansion is probably due to the new CEO: Mike Davis coming on board this year,” she said. “Rhapsody International has a lot of experience in the subscription music business, has a large catalog and favorably compares in both catalog size and price to Apple and Spotify, as well as Google Play.

“These partnerships through Napster will help expand Rhapsody International’s consumer reach and help in expanding outside the US, a critical need for streaming music success.”

The partnerships, which court consumers by proxy, could also organically evolve into Internet of Things integration by allow consumers to try Napster’s product in specific settings such as on a Eurowings aircraft.

“Napster is now part of a company that has real experience in streaming music services and expanding into specific types of hardware makes a lot of sense,” Ms. Troutman said. “As a real player in the streaming music services business Rhapsody International is well positioned to head into the IoT.

“One other thing of note is Napster’s partnership with Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, which places Napster as a champion of music creators and rights owners compensation for their work, an issue that has plagued Spotify (note ?Taylor Swift’s issue with compensation for streaming music). All of these partnerships are a big positive for Napster and will most likely make that brand more accessible to consumers worldwide.”