Praise be to the cyclical nature of the world, and business’s inability to refuse to buy into nostalgia: Napster is coming back to the United States. Well, kinda.
Rhapsody, which is that streaming service you’ve kind of heard of but never really understood, announced this Tuesday on their blog that they’d be rebranding to Napster. The company has owned the Napster brand since 2011, when it bought it from Best Buy. (Huh?) Since then, the service has been branded as Napster in Europe, but that branding had never made it until the United States, until now.
Variety reports that, due to the fact that nobody in America cares about Rhapsody, the company has decided to try to capitalize on the legacy of the Napster name. This is smart, as, in the 15 years since Lars Ulrich’s legal crusade, the Napster brand has transformed from tragic to heroic, as co-founder Sean Parker has become synonymous with the exploding tech industry. (And also with Justin Timberlake, who played him in David Fincher’s The Social Network.)
But, will Rhapsody’s rebranding be too little, too late? Probably. As it stands, most American consumers are torn between Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal, and even with the help of Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Kanye West, Tidal has still had a hard time yanking users from Spotify, which has 30 million subscribers. Apple Music, too, has an intensely growing userbase, which now stands at close to 15 million. But, of course, they’ve got the advantage of being native to iPhones, which are owned by close to 100 million Americans. So, Rhapsody’s rebranding to a logo of a cat wearing headphones probably won’t result in a giant increase in subscriptions, but, hey, it’s worth a try, right?