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BMG to Purchase Napster 155

asv108 writes "In a dramatic reversal, Bertelsmann has agreed to purchase Napster's assets. Founder Shawn Fanning and CEO Konrad Hilbers are set to return to the company after announcing their resignation earlier this week."
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BMG to Purchase Napster

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  • Who cares about this anyway? Napster is dead. The reason Napster was so popular will never be the same.
    • by PepsiProgrammer ( 545828 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:46PM (#3540114)
      Well, at least SOMEONE is buying something from napster now.
      • One thing about your sig : Caffeine actually leads to a nervous system collapse after several hours, ironically causing extreme tiredness/mental fatigue. The "stay alert" aspect of caffeine is only true for very short periods of time, but extended it inverts and has the opposite effect.

        Just thought I'd mention that as it's a common fallacy that sucking back mountain dews (at least the US kind) all day leads to some extra long day, when the reality is quite the contrary.
    • Well, if they're not totally dead, they might put the Gigaspiral back on line. I loved that thing for finding new bands. Napster bought Gigabeat, who had a nifty site where you enter an artist name & they'd draw you a spiral with similar bands grouped around it - popular on one side, obscure on the other. Now gigabeat.com doesn't even resolve. Oh well.
  • by cliffy2000 ( 185461 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:30PM (#3540023) Journal
    Yes, my valuation of Napster is up there with Enron and Global Crossing. :)
    So many assets!
  • Unless it means We get the good old napster back for free, does anyone really care?
  • Why? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by slipgun ( 316092 )
    Just why are BMG doing this? It would seem they've missed the boat - no one is going to pay for something which before they could get for free. Are they just being stupid, or can they see something we can't?
    • by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot.castlesteelstone@us> on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:51PM (#3540132) Homepage Journal
      BMG, and the rest of RIAA, can sell something that no file-sharing app can get you. Legallity and legitimacy.

      There is a price-point where people will pay to have a legal right to the song that's allready illegally on their computer. If BMG can figure out the right price point, they can make a profit selling nothing but legitimacy.

      Personally, I'd give them my legal name, home address, and give them permission to track me until the day I die IF I can get a full legal title to the music I buy. I want to be able to get a "replacement media" discount on a new copy of my destroyed CD. I want to be able to download lossless song files to burn me a custom album, and have it be 100% legit.

      I won't pay $50 a month to do this. I would pay $5 a year. Somewhere in between those two, I would have to reserve judgement until the offer's been made.

      If BMG can provide what I want, I will buy from them.
      • by manobes ( 541867 ) <manobes@sfu.ca> on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:04PM (#3540208) Homepage

        Here's the problem as I see it.

        People aren't attached to music labels. Nobody is exclusive to a certianly record label (i.e. I only buy Sony). This is a huge problem for label sponsored download sites.

        While I concur with your point that nobodys going to mind paying $5/year to use BMG/Napster, they aren't going to want to do the same form Sony/Napsterclone, Universial/Napsterclone, etc. It's not just the price, it's the hassle. You've got to fill out a separte signup form for each one, and each has a different UI, different media format, different copying policy etc.

        CD stores are successful becuase they aren't label specific, that's why Napster was successfull too. You could get anything you wanted there. If all they carry in the future is BMG music, then what's the point?

        • CD stores are successful becuase they aren't label specific, that's why Napster was successfull too

          Oh, silly me, I thought it was because the music was free on Napster.

          that's not saying it couldn't work this way, just, a little less so...
      • OK, I'm sure that I must have missed something, and I'll get flamed for this...

        the original post wasn't asking why Napster would want to be bought by BMG. It was asking why BMG would want to buy Napster. Writing a file sharing app is easy and cheap. Napster isn't even a great implementation.

        I don't think it's too hard to see what BMG brings to the table. The question is, what does Napster have that would make BMG want to pay them for it?
        • I don't think it's too hard to see what BMG brings to the table. The question is, what does Napster have that would make BMG want to pay them for it?

          A name. Like it or not, Napster *still* has a strong trademark. Just like car companies can bring out the names of old car models & increase their market, BMG can label their new MP3 service "Napster" and get a bigger chunk of the market.
      • And when cops/*AA/FBI visits you you can proof somehow that all those mp3s (and oggs) you own are legally yours?
      • Well. I wouldn't pay for legitimate mp3 files for the same reason I don't want free mp3 files.

        Have you ever heard a baritone sax solo on mp3?? Sounds like crap. The only way it sounds good is with no compression at all.

        The day I can get CD quality downloading files, fast, without having to pay for huge bandwith, I will pay for legitimacy.
      • I see this as a move by BMG to use the Napster name to push their dated and exploitive business model onto the web.
      • <x-files mode=on>

        Maybe they want access to all the log files so they can sue bazillions
        of former users for copyright infringment...

        Nah. They wouldn't do that would they?
      • I'm invoking Godwin's Law. Please close up shop and head home with your tail between your legs I win. There is absolutely nothing left to accomplish here. http://www.godwinslaw.com/
    • Bertelsmann is German. Even if Napster is in the toilet in the United States, they COULD figure out something useful to do with it in Europe...

      Like P2P Hasselhoff.

  • My guess is he got no money. I wonder what kind of job he can get now.
  • by swein515 ( 195260 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:34PM (#3540044) Journal
    Founder Shawn Fanning...set to return to the company after announcing their resignation earlier this week.

    ..after realizing he had zero experience or skill to work anywhere else.
    • Not true! He could open up one of those little burn-your-own mix kiosks that you find all over the streets in China. I'm sure he has just a few gigs of mp3s these days.
      • I almost wonder if he's sick of music by now...I know I'd walk around with ear plugs after going through what he has been through.
        • Judge: "You're not allowed to listen to any kind of music, buy a CD, play a CD, go near a MP3 player or any other contact with music you could be able to have for the following 5 years. By that time, your probation officer will evaluate your status and decide you could start listening to some Britney Spears"
          • Britney's label would probably have a problem with that however, now that they're paranoid of him stealing the "music". ;)
            • Hey, can't let Shawn near a phone. He can whistle in the mouthpiece and steal music from a nearby Best Buy.

              And don't forget about all the music he's heard on the radio and has illegally stored in his head. Call in ElectroShock Therapy to erase it.
        • I remember watching a program about how they all thought they were going to get rich when the company floated (either that or merged I can't remember which) when the SEC intervened and stopped it. That was the problem with the .com entrepreneurs - a lot were only in it for the money.
    • Shawn has had absolutely nothing to do with that company since his Uncle stepped in.

      I suppose I wouldn't mind going back to a company where I got to sit on my ass all day and do nothing.
    • ..after realizing he had zero experience or skill to work anywhere else.

      What are you talking about? Metallica would be more than happy to have him in their band now that he's joined the dark side of the force.

  • so.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jglow ( 525234 )
    so.. the company that was (or still is?) suing Napster has now purchased it. I think it's safe to say that Napster [napster.com] is officially dead.
  • by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:35PM (#3540053)
    is about 2 years behind everyone else... I am just worried they bought napster in order to patent some of the involved technologies. They do have the money to pay the lawyers to try to do that.

  • by Bouncings ( 55215 ) <ken AT kenkinder DOT com> on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:38PM (#3540066) Homepage
    Yes, they purchased napster, but they aren't allowed to make copies of the company or share it with any of their partners. Shame. Although if you stick a post-it note on Shawn's face, you can clone him!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...so I can ignore this shit.

    Who could possibly care about this relic and the predictable characters who surround it, after this long?

  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:39PM (#3540072) Homepage

    With OpenNAP, WinMX, and so many other P2P solutions available these days, does anyone really care about Napster? By today's standards, centralized hub-trading is sort of obsolete..

    tar zxvf bag.tar.gz | cat cat

    • There are probably a select few who never switched to something else when Napster went down, all six of them. A lot of people will try out Napster simply because it is Napster, and that alone could make BMG money. I predict that Kazaa will really be the new big filesharing app, and it's not based on a central server so it's unstopable.
      • yeah their uncentralized and unstoppable alright, thats why the linux client, and morpheus (same network) no longer function.
        • What exactly would be centralized in the network? Does the kazaa network basically just serve as a hub for the users? Seems plausible, given that they had that ability to block out morpheus...but still, by centralized server, are they just talking about how users can connect by logging into the network to others or as in terms of what?
          • I beleive the centralization has to do with some sort of authentication, after that it is supposedly compltely decentralized, and you just connect to other users, similar to gnutella in a few ways I guess. If im not mistaken, it used to be that you could connect to the network, even if you couldent authenticate, but now that isnt the case. I want my linux client back!
        • go check out gift [sf.net] and the open fast track features. They are not centralized like kazaa.
    • By today's standards, centralized hub-trading is sort of obsolete..

      Oh really? So you know a true P2P system that can find results on hundreds of millions of files in the next second or so, like Napster did at its peak? Everything currently is slow, unreliable (compared to Napster that is), and.. no userbase worth mentionning.
      I just hope that the non-copyrighted stuff will still be allowed, which made the strengh of Napster in the first place (find obscure/old songs).
    • Yes. Not because of what Napster IS, but because of what BMG might do with it. If BMG offers some sort of a legal mp3 service for a reasonable price, then that is very important. Even if it is less efficient, some degree of advantage should be bestowed on them because it's LEGAL. If they use copy protected media and charge an outrageous fee, then you're right, we'll all just keep using P2P.
  • Maybe if the record companies finally have their own solid method of distributing music, then maybe they will stop bothering file sharing services.
  • napster changed everything, but when it died others stepped up to the plate. Sure the time in between sucked (aimster and early limewire, etc.) but now with the fastrack network and audiogalaxy, mp3s are pretty much as easy to get as before, sans the convienence of a centralized server. Secondly, napster is going to be using their new file format, and it has no chance of replacing mp3s. mp3s are popular and have a well saturated population on the net. Other formats have come out that are smaller in size at the same quality like wma(yeh i know its windows only) and ogg, but mp3s stay on top because of popularity and convience. Finally, since they have been bought by BMG, I assume there is going to be some sort monetary transaction involved. Are people willing to pay for music? Yes, I believe so, but only if it is really cheap (99 cents a song or so) and most of the money goes directly to the artists. I don't know what their plan is.
    So basically, what Im saying is napster has a chance to get back in the game, but it won't succeed, and I think most people will agree.
    • two things:

      (1) $0.99/song would be almost 15 bucks for a 15 track (not unusual) cd. Thats a savings of, oh, roughly zero. I doubt the 99 cents per song plan would get very far.

      (2) FastTrack and Audio Galaxy are ridden with spyware for almost all users. As far as I know, gnutella is the only decent naptster replacement, and even some gnutella clients (limewire, et al) are doing spyware now. It's not as easy as it once was, many people are paying a price they don't even realize for their free music.

      Of course, if your serious about mp3s, you're not looking for 128kbps individual tracks with fucked up filenames, and thats what all those services are filled with. FTP (or hotline even) and full albums is what I like.
  • by Noexit ( 107629 )
    To buy a dead horse? I've got seaside property here in Oklahoma if they're interested...

  • The 3 E's (Score:2, Insightful)

    by El_Smack ( 267329 )

    Sounds like another large corp. knows the 3 E's of competition: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

    • Re:The 3 E's (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xacid ( 560407 )
      That would make tons of sense if only napster was still the big dog, but a nice perspective to look at business none the less.
    • Gee, I don't know - purchasing a company with multiple lawsuits pending and injunctions in place virtually ceasing all business operations?

      I think you have the wrong 3 E's. This sounds more like Enron, Enron, Enron.

  • by agent oranje ( 169160 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:41PM (#3540088) Journal
    I haven't used Napster since "the man" first cracked down on them, because there are so many alternatives which will forever be free. I don't use these, either, as emusic.com [emusic.com] provides quality music, fast downloads, and I'm actually supporting the artists in the end. I'd rather pay a small fee to get what I want then endlessly search for what I want with a free client.

    Napster is dead, and due to the fact that Napster isn't Jesus, Napster is going to stay dead. I'm glad the record companies are wasting their time and resources trying to bring back the service they destroyed. The irony of companies wasting their money trying to revitalize a service that they claimed would cause them to lose money. -agent oranje. its not just for breakfast anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It is official: ZDNet confirms: IP theft is dying
    One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered IP theft community when IDC confirmed that IP theft market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all file-sharing. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that IP theft has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. IP theft is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

    You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict IP theft's future. The hand writing is on the wall: IP theft faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for IP theft because IP theft is dying. Things are looking very bad for IP theft. As many of us are already aware, IP theft continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. Napster is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core users.

    Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

    Gnutella leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of Gnutella. How many users of KazAA are there? Let's see. The number of Gnutella versus KazAA posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 KazAA users. Morpheus posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of KazAA posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of Morpheus. A recent article put Napster at about 80 percent of the IP theft market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 Napster users. This is consistent with the number of Napster Usenet posts.

    Due to the troubles of RIAA, abysmal sales and so on, Napster went out of business and was taken over by BMG who sell another troubled OS. Now Napster is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

    All major surveys show that IP theft has steadily declined in market share. IP theft is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If IP theft is to survive at all it will be among Music dilettante pirates. IP theft continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, IP theft is dead.
    • Your parody of the classic "BSD Is Dying" story forgets 1. that Morpheus is now part of Gnutella, and 2. that WinMX [winmx.com] has become exceedingly popular because it's essentially the same as the old Napster, but completely decentralized.

      BMG who sell another troubled OS.

      What the?

  • Sounds like the board of napster tried to call a bluff which wasn't a bluff. Though if I was anyone affiliated with napster I'd be taking what I can, as at least from the outside, it looks like a sinking ship.
  • 1. What sort of assets would they have?
    2. Who cares, let dead horses stay dead.
  • The whole thing looks like something out a family sitcom. The siblings are fighting when a couple of them decide that they are going to go and pout. This brings Dad onto the scene who patches everything up with some good advice, perhaps a threat and 8 million dollars.

  • The Benefit to BMG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kraegar ( 565221 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:58PM (#3540169)
    Is that they now have the Napstar name. When you mention "MP3" or "Music Online" the majority of sheep think of Napster. So now a major corporation (one of those that oppressed Napster to the point of death) now owns that name.

    Any publicity is good publicity...

    And the whole lawsuit thing was a whole lot of publicity where Napster was seen as the underdog by most people. Now BMG not only owns Napster, but owns that image they helped to create.

    What will they do with it? I dunno, but you can bet it will involve them trying to make a profit. Don't go lookin for freebies.

  • by Target Drone ( 546651 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:58PM (#3540175)
    Bertelsmann has since spent millions of dollars to prop up Napster
    Bertelsmann will pay $8 million to Napster's creditors to acquire the company's assets. The transaction opens the door for Napster to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to sources close to the deal.
    Seems like an awful lot of money to pay for a company since
    • The software, while innovative will probably need an almost complete rewrite when they go to a new legit way of distributing music
    • All of their customers have gone over to Kaza, Gnutella, etc.
    • The name is now synonymous with illegal music. Although maybe they think it is worth something.
    • The company still needs to file for bankruptcy protection.
    So why are they paying so much for a company who's net worth ranks right up there with Enron? Is it?
    1. They're a few fruit loops short of a box
    2. They are buying the company just to make sure Napster doesn't somehow get going again
    3. Napster has technology that can be patented
    4. They know something we don't
    5. All of the above
  • I'm still angry about Napster getting shut down. Napster was for novelty purposes only. If a couple bad apples on the internet want to trade copyrighted MP3s, Napster should not be held responsible.
  • Do you /.ers seriously think that Napster hasn't developed any new software? They've had two years to work on their code base. Of course they have assets.

    All that today's file-sharing networks have on the old Napster are multiple-source downloads and gratuitous spyware. Napster's old client may be old news, but I wouldn't discount whatever they've developed in the meantime.

  • Come on, CmdrTaco, April Fools was a couple of months ago! Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you.
  • Napster is a household name by now. Even my parents still recognize it. That is worth some $.

  • by tezzery ( 549213 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:17PM (#3540283)
    I guess we can expect a new download club from BMG where you download 4 songs for 49 cents, if you agree to buy another 3 at regular club prices?
  • April was last month man...
  • is it just me, or is napster.com [napster.com] down?

    perhaps we have a motive?
  • It looks like things are not as they seem!

    More information about the takeover in this comment here [slashdot.org].

  • So is Shawn rich then, or what?
  • If the anti-circumvention part was taken out of the DMCA it wouldn't be so bad if they followed up with an ammendment that says that an ISP can add a bill of >=$1 to the home user monthly bill that would be collected and sent to the RIAA to distribute and then all home users of that ISP would be immune from not-for profit file sharing copyright prosecution or liability. If I could pay $5 a month extra to be immune from prosecution and lawsuits so that I could use whatever protocol I want to download music to sample.... that is a pretty damn small price to pay.
  • Let Napster die... It will always have a spot in our hearts and a spot on the bumpers of those who ended up with stickers. But, it really is the wrong way to go about it. I am not going to pretend that everybody here uses these things for legitimate purposes so lets get down to the point. If you want to use a service and have it stay around for awhile, you need to find another filesharing method that has been around for years without being pinched off.
    The number one that comes to mind for me is IRC combined with a real file transfer method (ftp) none of that dcc crap. Well... awhile back I started playing with Direct Connect [neo-modus.com]. And it seems to be a good shot at the "right" way to do it. Anybody can setup a HUB, which is used for chatting and brokers search requests. Hubs can interconnect (like irc) and make a much larger resource base. And clients are the nodes.
    It has a higher learning curve than napster or kazaa but after you figure it out and find a few good hubs you like you should be set.
  • ...has 9 fucking lives! More power to him!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A de-centralised system is needed. Take into affect why Napster was shutdown, by the following illustration on Napster's centralised peer-to-peer access...

    ASQDS=Authentication Structured Query Database Server
    P2P=Software able to answer requests for files as well as request files from another server.

    / | \
    / | \
    \ | /
    \ | /

    The problem with the above Napster design is that design prohibits users from directly accessing other P2P data servers without the ASQDS. And so, Napster is a centralised design for the sole reason of 1)tracking data requests, 2)tracking data transfers, and generally 3)providing revenue to tele-marketers. A more logical approach to a file sharing system would be...

    P2P ====+=== P2P
    P2P ASQDS (forwarding-bridge)
    P2P ====+=== P2P

    ...somehow, the above design looks just like the Gnutella networks. Thus, I promote the usage of Vanilla Nutella and not its proprietary derivatives including but not limited to BearShare and Limeware.
  • I simply don't understand why everyone consistently gets excited about Napster's potential return.

    Yes it was an evolutionary jump in MP3 location technology, it was innovative - but it's had it's day. Newer P2P technology from the likes of Edonkey, Gnutella and Kazaa have learned from Napster's shortcomings and produced even better, more reliable solutions.

    Has anyone stopped to recall how long it sometimes took to actually get a connection to a Napster server?

    The Amiga was innovative and fun but would anyone trade their P4 for one to use every day?
  • Retro-Napster (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WEFUNK ( 471506 )
    Napster as we know it is dead.

    The recording industry as we know it (certainly the distribution side) is probably heading that way too.

    We can guess, but no one really knows what the future holds for media production and distribution -- lot's of ideas for business models and cultural shifts - but no one really has a clue what's going to stick.

    But everyone and their grandmother knows the name Napster and what it stands for, and there is already a certain amount of nostalgia for the first breakthough P2P music service and probably always will be since they did come first.

    BMG is probably just hedging their bets.

    Their best move might be to buy the Napster "assets" -- just the name and history really, then just hold on to it for a while so they don't tarnish the "brand".

    Maybe P2P, ripping, and burning will just go away with some breakthrough copy protection -- I'm certainly not betting on it and they probably aren't either. Like everybody else in the recording industry, they'll kick and scream and try to hold on to their tenuous historical position while also experimenting with various on-line ventures - most of which will be doomed to mixed results and outright failure.

    Once the cards really start to fall (along with many of the established players who won't accept drastically lower margins and/or different revenue sources) and a more stable model is reached, BMG could then rebrand the best product or service they've developed or adopted as the "New Napster(tm)" to help save whatever value their stock might still have.

    Branding certainly isn't what is once was, but for an aging multi-billion dollar conglomerate, throwing down a few million is nothing if they can one day claim to be the first player in whatever new industry paradigm emerges and hopefully evoke a little nostagia while they're at it.

    "Remember the first time you used Napster...?"

  • For those of you still longing for good old days of Napster, try WinMX [winmx.com]. The interface is somewhat similar to Napster client but has more features. I especially like the bandwidth throttle and auto complete. You may be surprised to know that it doesn't come with any spyware. Only downside is that it is only available for Windows. Does anyone knows if it runs on Wine or VMWare?
    • What's even cooler is that they just released a new version of WinMX a few days ago that has a bunch of great fixes. I hear they even added some new functionality, such as downloading a file from multiple people (like Morpheus).
  • I wondered if a big company would buy Napster and sit on it. This will be interesting to see if the assets are going to be used or not.
  • Been to a concert lately? This seems like how bands plan to do several encores now days and even have special features and things to show during these. Kind of a publicity stunt.
  • ... and they can't buy that with any amount of money: the old Napster user base. Without that, they have nothing.

    Unless, of course, they're changing it into a whole different 'service' (i.e. no longer p2p but direct downloads from Bertelsmann's servers), in which case it's no longer Napster.

    This is great news--Bertelsmann is throwing a ton of money down a rat hole!

    -- Shamus

  • i wish i could sell absolutely nothing of value to a company for $8 million dollars.
  • by szcx ( 81006 )
    So does this mean BMG and the RIAA own the search and transfer logs relating to everyone who ever used the service? "Dear sir/madam, we notice you downloaded an illegal MP3, you owe us $100,000 per song. KTHX."
  • Money Talks. That's all. If I were getting my ass sued off and people were throwing me butt-loads of money to buy my quasi-illegle brand name, I'd be sorely tempted to cash out too. It sucks, but it's hard to blame them at the same time. Look at it this way... They're $20 million richer than you or I at the moment. It's the dotcom dream.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley