In the heat of the aforementioned legal battles, a settlement offer was made by Napster to the recording industry. Under the proposal, for $10/month, Napster users would retain their existing libraries and be permitted to continue downloading music. In return, the industry would essentially contain and control all active music downloaders in one centralized location. The war would be over. The industry would win. File-sharing would operate under the terms and control of the RIAA.
But the proposal was declined. Napster was shut down. Other servers popped up. You know the rest. Money was left on the table. A lot of money.
How much? Let’s find out.
At its peak, Napster played host to over 26 million verified users worldwide. At $10 a month, that’s over $3.1 billion a year. That’s $3.1 billion that stayed in listeners’ pockets as they uninstalled Napster and added Morpheus or Kazaa to their desktops. That’s $3.1 billion per year. Every year. And that ignores inflation and an increase in users.
The counter argument, naturally, is that not all 26 million users would fork over $10/month. That’s understandable. But think about the alternatives. Not the alternatives of today, but the alternatives that existed in 2000. Really, there was only one. Walk to your local record store and pay $15/album. Not much of an alternative, after all.