Rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated. Napster last week arose out of the ashes of bankruptcy, and was re-launched as a fee-based service. In just one day it once again became one of the most trafficked sites for downloading music files, behind only Kazaa and MP3.
Napster has a new corporate owner, Roxio, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROXI), a provider of digital media software. Once an outlaw and the icon for bucking the major music labels, Napster now has gone legit. According to the Napster site: “Napster has extensive content agreements with the five major record labels, as well as hundreds of independents. Napster delivers access to the largest catalog of online music, with more than 500,000 tracks spanning all genres from Eminem to Miles Davis.”
This suggests a new era of music download sites may be dawning. Perhaps it is true–people just might pay to download music if the fees are reasonable and the selection broad. We’ll write more about this phenomena, especially the impact on smaller artists and smaller record labels, as trends develop.