Napster is coming to Japan. Or, at least, its underlying technology is.
Seattle-based Rhapsody International and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. announced Monday that the two companies will partner on a new high-resolution music streaming service in Japan called “mora qualitas.” Underpinning the SMEJ on-demand service will be Rhapsody’s “Powered by Napster” streaming music platform, including what the companies say are systems, tools and APIs to quickly bring the service to market.
Rhapsody and SMEJ claim the service will be first of its kind in Japan for audio enthusiasts. “They no longer have to choose between a streaming service and high quality audio. With mora qualitas, fans can now have both for the very first time,” said Brian Ringer, Rhapsody’s executive vice president and general manager for the Asia Pacific region, in a statement. Ringer said Rhapsody is also committed, on a global scale, to helping similar services launch quickly.
From a quality standpoint, SMEJ says the new service, initially for Windows and Macintosh desktop users, allows for streaming lossless FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files at a standard of 24-bit/44.1-96khz for high-resolution, or 16-bit/44.1khz for compact disc quality.
Rhapsody was a pioneer in streaming music and eventually acquired the Napster brand, which it used to rebrand its consumer music service. However, in recent years it’s failed to get the buzz accorded to higher-profile rivals such as Spotify and Pandora. Seattle’s RealNetworks once owned and then spun off privately held Rhapsody in 2010, and still owns a significant portion of it.
Variety reports the new service is expected to launch in early 2019, and adds that Spotify has had little success in Japan, something the high-resolution SMEJ service may be trying to take advantage of.