Former Roblox vp and global head of music Jonathan Vlassopoulos has joined Napster as CEO, the company announced on Sunday (September 25).
Vlassopoulos, there left Roblox in April became known after three years for shaping the company’s groundbreaking virtual concert strategy in the early days of the pandemic, when the platform hosted blockbuster virtual shows for artists including Lil Nas X, Thai Verdes, Twenty one pilots and 24K Gold. He also navigated Roblox through a rough patch after the company was sued by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) for copyright infringement in June 2021. The two parties settled down the $200 million lawsuit three months later and began negotiations for further licensing agreements.
Vlassopulos joins Napster four months after the company — which started in 1999 as a peer-to-peer file-sharing service that itself ran afoul of the music industry — was acquired by Web3 companies Hivemind and Algorand with plans to bring the long-running brand into The Web3 room.
“In our early discussions with Jon, we quickly realized his vision to build a fresh, new and social online music service centered around connecting artists and fans in new ways. Leveraging Web3 technology aligns perfectly with where we see Napster going ,” said W. Sean Ford, interim CEO of Algorand, in a statement. “We believe Napster is the perfect brand and platform to lead the next generation of the music industry beyond streaming or avatar-driven virtual concerts. Jon’s strong connection to the music industry and extensive experience will provide us with the necessary leadership to make this into a reality.”
Vlassopulos added that he is “thrilled to lead a company with such a rich history in the music industry” and “looks forward to working with the amazing Napster team, our current and future partners, labels, artists, publishers, brands and startups to bring mainstream fans to Web3.”
Concurrent with Vlassopulos’ hiring, Napster also announced a new round of funding with participation from existing investors and new backers, including Hivemind, Algorand, SkyBridge Capital, Alumni Ventures, Borderless Capital and G20. The money will be used to “accelerate” the company’s Web3 initiative.
“We are delighted that Napster will become a key player in the Music Web3 ecosystem,” they said Matt Zhang, founder and managing partner of Hivemind. “We look forward to bringing together all the amazing innovation that has happened to date so that we can all drive the mainstream adoption of Web3 technology for the music industry.”
In addition, Napster announced the launch of an artist development fund to help support the marketing and launch of artist Web3 projects globally.
Vlassopulos started his music career as a DJ before moving on to work for BMG and Bertelsmann, where he led many of the company’s early digital initiatives and investments, including working on the original Napster file sharing service over 20 years ago. He later moved to AT&T Wireless, where he launched a mobile music service, before running the digital and branded entertainment divisions at television production company Endemol. He subsequently served as CEO of mobile entertainment marketing and advertising agency Skyrockit before joining Roblox in 2019. In June, he joined the Advisory Board of Dubit, a UK-based metaverse game designer