Skip to main content

An internet site appears on a computer screen as a user downloads music onto a minidisc player on October 8, 2003 in London.Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

A familiar name is joining Canada's crowded streaming music market: Napster.

The peer-to-peer downloading program that single-handedly brought the recorded music industry to its knees in the late '90s and early 2000s, has returned to Canada once again as a fully-licensed streaming service.

Like many of its streaming competitors, including Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music and Google Play, consumers can access Napster's library of more than 30 million songs and expert-curated playlists for $9.99 a month.

The Napster brand has been passed around like a hot potato since its original copyright-skirting iteration was shut down in 2001. The media company Roxio ran the service for a while as a licensed download-and-streaming product. Retailer Best Buy bought Napster in 2008, and then in 2011, competing streaming service Rhapsody acquired it.

Napster had actually been available legally in Canada for several years by then, but left the country shortly after the acquisition. It remains a Rhapsody product.

While Napster undoubtedly carries a great deal of brand recognition, its four-year absence from Canada will make acquiring subscribers a tough slog. Apple has become the world's go-to source for music generally, and Spotify is the brand most consumers think of when they think of streaming – as the industry leader, it boasts more than 75 million users.

Spotify also has another digital-disruption weapon in its arsenal: Sean Parker, one of Napster's co-founders, has put both his name and money behind the company as an investor and director.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story