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Difference Between Spotify and Napster

It’s almost surprising to see how the music streaming industry has changed over the years. The streaming services quickly gained momentum and now represent an integral part of many people’s lives. Today, we take a look at the two biggest names in the music streaming industry – Spotify and Napster. 

What is Spotify?

Spotify is the people’s favorite music streaming platform and one of the world’s largest music streaming service providers with over 365 million active monthly users and 165 million paid members. Spotify is a cool music streaming service that provides easy access to music and podcasts on-the-go. You can listen to millions of songs and podcasts on your home computer or while working on your laptop, or even on your phone. You can listen to the songs for free, if you don’t mind the ads or other limitations. For a low monthly fee, you can listen to Spotify completely ad-free and without any limitations. You do not have to pay for each download; instead, your subscription covers everything in a given month. You can find everything from classical music and country music to latest hip hop hits and even jazz.

What is Napster?

Napster was the brainchild of Shawn Fanning, a computer programmer, entrepreneur, and angel investor. Then 19-year old, Shawn revolutionized the World Wide Web, developed one of the first peer-to-peer file sharing platforms, and provoked one of the largest lawsuits in the history of the music industry. When he started Napster in 1999, the idea of free music was so overwhelming that almost 80 million users downloaded Napster and broke the law.

Napster provided millions of users access to a large amount of music for free and the users could also access each other’s audio files. It was basically a cataloging system that looked for all the MP3 audio files in your hard drive and allowed them to be shared with anyone else using the software. It was quick to gain fame and as the users increased, the company caught up in a legal battle over copyright infringement. Finally, the company was acquired by Roxio. In 2020, the virtual reality concerts company MelodyVR bought Napster for $70 million.

Difference between Spotify and Napster

Music Library

 – Napster started as a peer-to-peer file sharing platform where one could access and share music for free. Napster basically did two things: one, it stored a catalog of all the MP3 files on the hard drive of all the registered Napster users, and two, it enabled MP3 sharing among Napster users. Napster is an online music store now with a music library of around 60 million songs (vary by country or region). Spotify, on the other hand, says it has a vast catalog of over 70 million songs, including music and podcasts.

Music Discovery 

– Spotify has arguably the best music discovery algorithms, particularly the “Discovery Mode” that is a great way for independent artists to reach a much wider audience and get their voices heard without a big record label budget. Discover Weekly is one of the flagship offerings on Spotify that brings you a mixtape of fresh music every week based on your favorites and preferences. If you’re looking for the extensive selection of playlists based on algorithms you get with Spotify, you’d be disappointed with Napster. 


 – Napster’s basic subscription tier offers unlimited ad-free listening at $4.99 per month. The Premier plan is probably the most popular offering from Napster and costs $9.99 ($95.90 annually) per month for offline mode, unlimited plays, multiple device support, etc. There is also a Family plan that costs $14.99 per month for up to six accounts. Spotify Premium costs $9.99 a month for ad-free service or if you’re a student, it will cost you $4.99 per month. Spotify’s Family plan costs $15.99.

Spotify vs. Napster: Comparison Chart


Spotify is arguably one of the most recognized music streaming services out there, with a huge music catalog of over 70 million songs and the best music discovery algorithms in the music streaming space. Spotify is a streaming music subscription service that enables you to listen to as much music as you want anytime you want for a small monthly fee. Napster brand is as good as dead because the business model has failed following years of legal disputes over copyright infringement. Napster is not in the condition anymore to compete with the industry leaders like Spotify.

Does anyone still use Napster?

The live concerts company MelodyVR acquired Napster for $70 million in 2020. The business model wasn’t very generous to maintain a stronghold in the music streaming market, but the brand never actually died. Today, Napster is an online music store.

Which is the best music streaming service?

Spotify has arguably the best music discovery algorithms and a very neat user interface to begin with. It is also the people’s favorite music streaming platform. So, one could argue that Spotify is the best music streaming service out there. But then, it also depends on your personal preferences.

Is Napster any good?

Shawn Fanning combined his love of music with his obsession with computer programming to create software revolutionized the music industry forever – and it was all before he was barely 21. Napster is now an online music store and subscription service. It is falling behind the market leaders.

Is eSound better than Spotify?

eSound is a free music streaming app that allows you to listen to all the music for free. Spotify is one of the largest music streaming service providers in the world. eSound is a good alternative to Spotify, but the latter holds over a fifty percent of the music streaming market.

Is Spotify owned by Google?

Spotify is not owned by Google. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Spotify is owned by a holding company named Spotify Technology S.A.

Why did Napster fail?

Napster surely started a digital music revolution and changed the music industry forever. Napster caught up in legal disputes on the grounds of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, and was finally shut down in 2001 following a lawsuit by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Did Sean Parker help Mark Zuckerberg?

Sean Parker cofounded Napster and was the first president (2004-2005) of the social networking giant Facebook. He helped with the negotiations in securing the financing for Facebook from Paypal cofounder Peter Thiel and Accel Partners.

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  1. As a longtime Napster subscriber I’d like to correct some misinformation in this article. No, Napster may never eclipse Spotify, etc., but if the two are to be compared here, the facts should be in evidence.

    The present Napster has no connection to the original illegal file sharing service. When I joined, it was called Rhapsody, by Real Networks. It was renamed to Napster (in 2016?) to capitalize on the name’s familiarity.

    Its business model is a subscription and download service. It is not an “online music store”, as iTunes is. No tracks can be purchased (though it did at one time offer that option).

    Napster also serves as a musical social network, offering the (anonymous) id’s of other listeners whose listening habits are similar to mine, so users can connect and discuss.

    They enable personal playlists, other users’ playlists, make recommendations based on my listening habits. I don’t know what their discovery algorithms are, I don’t tell them my ‘mood’ to listen to something appropriate. I know what I like.

    At the subscription level I use (9.99) I can listen on up to 3 devices (or in any web browser). I can download unlimited tracks to any of these devices for offline play. They only play through the Napster app or website and they work as long as I continue my subscription.

    Your confusion between the original, illegal, defunct Napster and the current service causes you to throw shade at every point. Is Napster any good???? (yes, very good).Why did Napster fail???? (it’s still going strong). Does anyone still use Napster???? (Yup, lots of people) Spotify has a ‘huge’ library of 70 M songs, Napster ‘only’ 60 M (frankly that hasn’t mattered since these libraries surpassed 10 M).
    This confusion could have been avoided if you had looked up Napster on Wikipedia.

    I’m sure Spotify is a great service. Your article not withstanding, Napster is also, and it deserves a fair shake.

  2. I think it’s really important to note that per steam Napster pays artists several times more than Spotify does.
    Many sources say that Napster is the best in the business in that regard.
    If the income of the artists you love is important to you it’s something to consider.

  3. Napster pays artists a whole lot more per steam than Spotify does. About 5 times more. Feel like that’s a very important consideration to include on this page.

  4. I was actually most interested in how the two platforms compensate artists. Can you please talk about that?

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References :

[0]Mitten, Christopher. Shawn Fanning: Napster and the Music Revolution. Connecticut, United States: Twenty-First Century Books, 2002. Print

[1]Miller, Michael. Sams Teach Yourself Spotify in 10 Minutes. New Jersey, United States: Pearson Education, 2012. Print

[2]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NAPSTER.png

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Screenshot-spotify.png

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