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Napster revenues down, but unlike music-streaming rivals it’s profitable

Music-streaming service Napster is on track to record a net profit in 2018, despite its revenues having dropped by nearly 28% since the company’s peak in 2016.

Napster recorded net profits of $4.4m and $2.1m respectively in the first two quarters of this year, although its $76.5m revenues for the first half of 2018 compare to $106m in the comparable period in 2016.

This is based on Music Ally’s analysis of figures provided by technology firm RealNetworks in its own quarterly and annual financial results.

RealNetworks owns a 42% stake in Rhapsody International Inc, having launched Rhapsody as a joint venture with MTV Networks in 2007, before spinning it off as an independent company in 2010.

Rhapsody bought Napster in 2011 from its previous owner, US retailer Best Buy, operating it outside the US while retaining the Rhapsody brand in the US – until 2016, when the latter was rebranded as Napster.

RealNetworks publishes quarterly financial metrics for the streaming service, as a result of its stake: revenues and profit/loss figures, although not any metrics for Napster’s subscribers.

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Napster appoints Bill Patrizio as president and CEO

Streaming service Napster has a new, permanent boss. Bill Patrizio is no stranger to the company though: he was named as interim CEO in May 2017, while retaining his position as president of consumer media at RealNetworks – which continues to hold a stake in Napster.

“He has led a resurgence of the company in its new partner-oriented focus,” said co-chairmen Rob Glaser and Jason Epstein in a statement. “Bill has a track record of resilience and operational success, and a passion for the industry that will lead Napster forward into its next phase of innovation and growth.”

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Napster financials show its net losses more than halved in 2016

Streaming service Napster saw its revenues rise by just 3% in 2016, but it managed to cut its net loss for the year by more than half.

The figures are revealed in a recent financial filing by RealNetworks, which continues to own a stake in Napster’s parent company Rhapsody – to avoid confusion, this story refers to Rhapsody as the company.

The filing reveals that Rhapsody’s revenues rose from $202m in 2015 to $208.1m in 2016, while its annual net losses shrank from $35.5m to $14.9m in the same period.

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Rhapsody rebrands as Napster but promises ‘no changes’

There are more changes afoot at streaming service Rhapsody: it is
rebranding as Napster in the US.

“No changes to your playlists,
favourites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price.
100% the music you love. Stay tuned!” explained a short announcement
(that was its entire text) on the company’s blog yesterday, complete
with iconic headphoned-cat logo and the slogan ‘Napster is Coming’.

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Some staff laid off at Rhapsody and Napster

Rhapsody and Napster have confirmed a round of layoffs amid reports that the former is closing its San Francisco office.

“As part of our plan to better position Rhapsody/Napster for long-term profitability and accelerated growth in a competitive global market, we have a new, streamlined structure for the company that unfortunately impacts a number of positions across our global offices,” said CEO Mike Davis in a statement provided to Hypebot.

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Rhapsody revenues grew in 2015 – but so did its losses

Rhapsody is conforming to the ‘bigger revenues / bigger losses’ model of streaming growth, according to its financials for 2015.

The numbers, as usual, were published by RealNetworks as part of its own financial report – the company still holds a 43% stake in Rhapsody.

The key figures: Rhapsody’s revenues rose from $173.5m in 2014 to $202m in 2015 – growth of 16.4%. However, its net losses rose from $21.3m in 2014 to $35.5m in 2015, representing a 66.3% increase year-on-year.

This came as Rhapsody grew its subscriber base by 45% in 2015 – a stat revealed in February in RealNetworks’ last earnings call.

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Rhapsody targets parents with new KIDS mode

There’s no data on how many parents let their children use their streaming music service of choice – or how many of those have run into sticky situations where their kids have stumbled upon tracks whose lyrical content is NOT child-friendly.

Or, as it’s known in one Music Ally staffer’s household, ‘The Killing In The Name Of at a 5th Birthday Party Moment’.

Anyway, Rhapsody has become one of the first streaming services to launch a dedicated kids mode (called, logically enough, KIDS) to avoid this problem.