Napster buyer bets on VR gigs as music streaming thrives in lockdown | Business

“Going up against a Spotify, I don’t think anyone wants to be doing that,” says Anthony Matchett, the new owner of Napster. Last month, the 32-year-old’s London-based music tech startup, MelodyVR, made waves by announcing a surprise $70m (£52m) reverse takeover of the pioneer of the music streaming revolution. Matchett is hoping that a marriage of MelodyVR, which films and streams gigs, with the 21-year-old Napster will be music to the ears, and eyes, of fans and investors alike.

“There is something very apt about a disruptive company that works with technology like MelodyVR and the original music industry disrupter,” he says. “We see synergies for a service that combines music streaming, immersive content, live events. Something that an Apple Music, a Spotify, or any other service doesn’t provide. Everything a music fan might really want.”

For the time being, the two companies will operate separately, although Matchett doesn’t rule out a potential renaming of his AIM-listed company in line with the well-known Napster brand in future. 

It is the fourth incarnation of Napster, founded in 1999 when Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys topped the charts, and it is now a relative minnow among the global music streamers. Napster, with 3 million subscribers, delivered 10.8bn streams and made $113m in revenue last year. “It is a shame, because a lot of people don’t realise they have a thriving business,” says an undeterred Matchett. “Although it is not the scale of a Spotify, it is growing and it is profitable. We are delighted to acquire it.”

Matchett is right to be confident. After more than a decade of plummeting CD sales and rampant piracy, the streaming revolution has put the music business back at the top of the charts for investors. Last year, global music sales grew for a fifth consecutive year, to $20.2bn, driven by a 23% growth in streaming (which accounted for $11.4bn of the total), having hit a low of $14bn in 2013.

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