Napster Leaves College

By Jon Newton 8/29/08

p2pnet was the first to reveal Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG plans to turn universities across America into corporate marketing and enforcement divisions, initially using Napster as the spearhead and Penn State as the first point of penetration. “Napster is the leader in legal online music services and provides access to over 500,000 songs,” said Rod Erickson in 2003.

Must be a Napster guy, or an RIAA minion. Yes?

Jon Newton

No. He was the Penn State executive vice president and provost and in one of the most blatant examples of a senior university official toadying to a hard-core commercial enterprise, “Thanks to our partnership with Napster, Penn State students will be able to play songs directly from the network, download songs onto their hard drives, and transfer songs to other computers–all for no additional cost to students,” he said. But he neglected to mention students who didn’t want to buy corporate ‘product’ through the disinterred Napster could end up as RIAA victims.

Single-use student promotion codes

Five years on, it seems Napster which, despite endless lamescream media hype and help from the corporate music industry, has gone from one marketing failure to another, is at last pulling out of the University music business altogether. “Napster’s decision to terminate their nationwide Napster on Campus program effectively ends their 4-year partnership with Vanderbilt,” says a post on Vanderbilt ITS News, going on: “However, Napster has agreed to continue discounted rates for current faculty and staff subscribers, and to offer a 33% 3-month discount on Napster to Go accounts for new Vanderbilt subscribers.”

Isn’t that nice?

“Vanderbilt’s association with Napster was part of a concerted effort to provide legal music downloading options, particularly to students,” says the item, adding: “Effective immediately, Napster will no longer offer single-use student promotion codes or new faculty discount codes. Discounted rates for current Vanderbilt faculty and staff subscribers will remain in effect.”

‘Inexpensive deals for students’

“We want to play nice,” p2net quoted Cindy Frank, director of service delivery and project management for information technology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who said in 2007...

She’s referring to Vanderbilt’s efforts to keep on the good side of the corporate music industry and its adherents, which have so far cost it in the region of half-a-million-dollars, she states.

Blithely, she goes on:

“We’ve negotiated very inexpensive deals for students. Napster is $2 a month and offers 3 million songs. We have also spent a lot money and time marketing them. We encourage these legal methods for downloading music.”

The above bald faced admission from Frank in InsideVandy makes it clear not only is the university working —- unpaid —- for Napster, a desperately broke, hard-core commercial music marketing service, it’s also acting up-front for Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG.

Are Napster and the Big 4 footing the bill?

No. That’s down to parents and state and federal authorities responsible for America’s educational systems.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise.


Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

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