Napster Begins Planned Acquisition Spree Amid Shift to Web3

20-plus-year-old music service has acquired Mint Songs, and Napster’s CEO says the company is eyeing more deals with “best-of-breed tech partners”

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Source: Shutterstock / Ralf Liebhold, modified by Blockworks

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The longest-running independent music streaming service is making a Web3 push.

Napster is doing so through the acquisition of an NFT marketplace, the company said on Wednesday — the first in a planned series of acquisitions to speed up its ambitions in the sector. 

The streaming service has finalized a deal to buy Mint Songs, a platform that helps music artists build Web3 communities, mint songs and offer exclusive art to fans. Exact terms were not disclosed.

Napster CEO Jon Vlassopulos told Blockworks the natural next step for the company was to include collectibles that fans can purchase or get as rewards for engaging with artists.

“Given Mint Songs has already built and operated one of the leading collectible marketplaces, the acquisition will allow us to get this new feature rolled out to our base quickly so that we can offer our global artist and label partners an easy way to mint and present collectibles to their fans and earn a new revenue stream,” Vlassopulos said.

Mint Songs co-founder Garrett Hughes will join Napster as an advisor. Nate Pham, a former head of product for Mint Songs, is set to lead the acquiring company’s Web3 product initiatives. 

Founded in 1999, Napster now offers more than 100 million tracks to subscribers.

“As we looked for a partner that could take what we’ve built over the last two years and give artists a true marketplace for their assets where millions of fans are already active, it became abundantly clear that Jon and Napster have the vision to finally take Web3 music to the mainstream,” Hughes said in a statement Wednesday. 

The acquisition comes after blockchain company Algorand and crypto investment firm Hivemind bought Napster last year “to once again revolutionize the music industry by bringing blockchain and Web3 to artists and fans,” according to a LinkedIn post at the time.

Hivemind was also involved in competing music service LimeWire’s $10 million private token sale just before that, led by Kraken Ventures, Arrington Capital and GSR. LimeWire said at the time it would soon launch a digital collectibles marketplace.

Napster outlined plans to apply Web3 technology to its existing business in June, saying that a new entity — Napster Innovation Foundation — would issue Napster tokens using the Algorand blockchain protocol.

Napster then hired Vlassopulos, the former global head of music at gaming platform Roblox, as its chief executive last September. 

Vlassopulos told Blockworks Napster is not done with buying, referring to the surge of recent innovation across Web3 and the metaverse sectors, as well as digital music and artificial intelligence initiatives. 

“Napster feels it can be a great partner to bring many of these new features and business models to the mainstream under an iconic brand,” Vlassopulos said. “We will continue to expand our Web3 and community features both organically and through acquisition or partnerships with best-of-breed tech partners.”

As for the Napster token, a spokesperson said the company is planning to launch it this year, but declined to comment further.


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