The Rhapsody-owned Napster streaming music service is expanding into 14 new European countries today, significantly ramping up its presence in the region.
The Napster service was already available in Germany and the U.K. but from today it’s also live in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands. The service is being priced at €9.95 per month for unlimited web and mobile streaming – both online and offline.
The (re)launch of the Napster brand across Europe looks to be an attempt to leverage what Rhapsody dubs a “cult” brand, but obviously without any of the illegality which brought Napster to Europeans’ attention in the first place. A cult brand may be required to muscle in on what’s already a very crowded space, with no shortage of streaming music startups in the region — Spotify and Deezer to name just two — plus larger tech companies taking an increasing interest. For instance Google has just jumped into the space with Google Play Music. And Apple is rumoured to be readying an iRadio streaming music service.
Rhapsody said Napster’s catalogue has more than 20 million songs globally for online or offline listening. The service is available on iOS and Android, plus can be accessed via connected audio systems and other devices. Additional features of the service include content curated by a dedicated team of “music experts” — putting playlists, featured artists and editorial content into the Napster Music Guide to help users discover new music, plus inside tips, live sessions and exclusive artist interviews.
Speaking to Music Ally about its European expansion, Rhapsody said it’s planning to introduce ‘laddered’ pricing — presumably in a bid to undercut more established European streaming music rivals. “There is going to be distribution of pricing tiers that we ladder people up as a way to create what will be a very profitable business,” Rhapsody International president Jon Irwin told Music Ally. “It could be capped on number of listens, it could be capped on functionality, it could be capped on availability on devices. The potential to innovate on those product models and laddering models is almost infinite.”
The laddered pricing structure will apparently be launched “in the coming months”. (h/t to Stuart Dredge for flagging the Music Ally interview.)
Rhapsody’s Napster service is also already available in the U.S. — where it’s branded Rhapsody, not Napster (yeah, that’s not at all confusing…).