What Next For Napster?

There has been a lot of press talk recently about Roxio’s intentions for Napster and it is something I’ll be keeping an eye on over the coming months.

But whatever Roxio finally manage to get launched, why on earth are they even trying to re-float this file sharing wreck? I would say there are three key drivers:

a) THE BRAND – In spite of its protracted demise and the subsequent more widespread success of Kazaa et al, Napster is arguably still the strongest online music brand that the Internet has seen. By dying young it achieved martyrdom and a forever-young James Dean-like status among the P-to-P community. Whether the brand would survive a commercial relaunch is debatable.

b) THE USER BASE – At its peak, Napster had the most comprehensive email database of online music fans in the world. Although many of these contacts will now be obsolete, this should still be a decent starting point for a targeted marketing campaign.

c) ROXIO’s SOFTWARE – Last, but absolutely not least. This has to be the key driver for Roxio’s purchase. A music related service would primarily serve as a launch pad for Roxio’s software products and services, much in the way that MSN acts as one for Microsoft. Judging by the evolution of Roxio’s software products I would not be surprised to see a newly launched Napster having a wider remit than music alone, offering a suite of multi-media services and content.

Roxio will have their work cut out securing licenses from the major labels, particularly if they want CD burning to be at the centre of the service but there would be an element of poetic justice if Napster did rise from the flames as a legitimate music service.

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