Rhapsody, a pioneering digital music company has laid off 15 percent of its staff, along with Jon Irwin, its President.

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Rhapsody made the trims Monday, while announcing that Rock Band owners Columbus Nova Technology Partners had bought up a ‘significant’ stage in the on-demand music service.  Irwin will remain with the company as an advisor, and will be joined by CNTP’s Jason Epstein and Andrew Intrater.  Rhapsody’s CFO is also out.

“Rhapsody International is poised for tremendous growth…We’ve recently launched the Napster music streaming service in 15 additional countries in Europe, rolled out a partnership with MTV in conjunction with German wireless carrier ePlus and have a strong pipeline of product innovations and global partnerships in place.”
– Jason Epstein, Board of Directors, Rhapsody

The company spearheaded the subscription-based streaming music model, when it launched back in 2001.  It has since lagged behind Spotify and Pandora, amongst others, all of whom support a free, ad-supported ecosystem.

The company claimed 1 million paid subscribers back in 2010, the last year it made numbers public, while Spotify was 6 million paying, with 24 million active users.

The digital music market has grown increasingly competitive in the past three years, and is expected to become even more crowded this week, as Apple releases iTunes Radio.

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