(Re-running this for those who may have missed it over the Jewish New Year last week.)
I am also pleased to announced that the law firm of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz has become our latest sponsor.
We invite law firms with practices in the digital copyright area — like Frankfurt Kurnit — to sponsor the conference as well. We have an exciting lineup of panels in our legal track. We will attract a high-caliber audience of professionals from media and technology industries who are coming to grips with issues of intellectual property in the digital age. If you are interested in sponsorship materials, please contact me as well.
In other news, the long-expected consolidation of music subscription services has begun with Monday’s announcement that Rhapsody will acquire the assets — mainly the subscriber base — of Napster.
Rhapsody is the first of the on-demand streaming subscription services to have gotten licenses from all of the major labels. They did this back in 2002, when there were five majors and Napster was still trying to recover from being shut down by a federal judge. Napster re-launched the following year… that is to say, the Napster brand was used to re-badge a service originally called Duet, then pressplay, which was a joint venture of two of the majors.
A first wave of subscription services appeared in the mid-2000s. Rhapsody and Napster were survivors of consolidation that took place around 2007, with other players like Virgin Digital disappearing. Now, with the launch of a second wave of subscription services, another cycle of consolidation has been inevitable.
Rhapsody only operates in the US, whereas Napster runs in a few other countries. Rhapsody will retain the Napster brand name outside of the US. Once the deal closes, Rhapsody will have 1.2 million paying subscribers, compared to 2 million for Spotify.
It’s a two-horse race now: Spotify vs. Rhapsody. The value of press hype and the long buildup to its US launch have done wonders for Spotify, which — as many would argue, and notwithstanding its superior mobile client — has considerably less functionality than Rhapsody. As I’ve said before, the consolidation will continue over the coming months.