Arun Sudhaman 31 Jul 2012 // 11:00PM GMT
LONDON--Napster, the pioneering music-sharing service that is attempting an ambitious relaunch, has brought in UK PR counsel to help build awareness of its new offering.
The service, now owned by Rhapsody, has selected UK tech firm CCgroup and sister consumer shop Escapade to provide PR support for its European expansion, following a competitive review.
Napster burst onto the scene in 1999, but its MP3-sharing approach soon fell foul of piracy lawsuits, eventually leaving the company bankrupt. It was acquired by Rhapsody in 2011, after being bought by US software company Roxio at an auction in 2002, and then sold on to Best Buy in 2008.
Rhapsody is America’s biggest music subscription service, and is aiming to use Napster’s European presence to penetrate the UK and Germany. Offering legal streaming services, Napster ranks second behind market leader Spotify in the UK.
Napster’s PR agency hire comes amid rising competition between online music providers, triggered by growing consumer demand and an increasingly congested marketplace. Spotify hired M&C Saatchi for UK PR support earlier this year, while Deezer is understood to be searching for a global consumer PR firm. Subscription service Rdio, built by the founders of Kazaa, has tapped Weber Shandwick in the UK.
Napster is hoping that a focus on editorial content will help distinguish its offering from rival players. The company has launched ‘The Mix’, an editorial service that sees experienced music journalists produce features, interviews, reviews and recommend playlists and compilations.
CCgroup and Escapade are charged with driving consumer uptake for Napster’s music subscription service and building its B2B market presence through bundled service offerings.
“Napster has ambitious plans for European expansion and we need an agency that can present a clear strategy to achieving our commercial objectives,” said Thorsten Schliesche, Napster Europe GM. “Combining Escapade’s consumer expertise with CCgroup’s unrivalled knowledge of the mobile industry gives us exactly what we need to help grow our subscription base and present the benefits of service bundling to potential partners.”
Napster previously worked with Liberty Communications in the UK. US duties are currently handled by Lyman PR.
“We’re excited to be working with such an innovative player in the digital music space,” added CCgroup and Escapade MD Richard Fogg.