Napster Contemplates Sale

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[ Business]

Napster’s looking for a friend, or a sugar daddy, whichever one makes a better offer. The controversial and troubled music download service announced the company was seeking partnerships, or a potential sale.

Napster chief Chris Gorog informed the public that the company had been approached by third parties about such a partnership and possibly a buyout. Napster enlisted the services of UBS Investment Bank to explore those possibilities.

Once king of the music download hill, Napster applied for bankruptcy protection in 2002, after the full weight of the music industry came down on the company in the form of lawsuits.

The company bounced back with a licensed paid service, but was unable to regain the public’s favor over iTunes or Rhapsody. In the second quarter of 2006, Napster saw a 7 percent decline in subscribers, dropping the number to 508,000, a third of Rhapsody’s 1.6 million.

Major companies have their eyes on the music download industry. Microsoft is set to launch its Zune digital music player, making the scene a bit more crowded.

But, as Ars Technica’s Eric Bangeman points out, the name recognition could raise Napster’s attractiveness as a “brand that still resonates with some consumers,” and could be a cheaper side-route to entering the market.

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