Venables Chosen for Napster Relaunch

SAN FRANCISCO Independent Venables, Bell & Partners has been chosen by Roxio to handle creative chores for the relaunch of its newly acquired Napster online music service brand, the client and agency said, though neither would disclose details of upcoming efforts.

The selection of Venables, a San Francisco independent, to handle Napster was not unexpected. In May, the shop had won creative chores for Pressplay, a Los Angeles-based online music subscription service, sources said [Adweek Online, May 19]. However, before the contract could be signed, Roxio, a digital media software company that owns the Napster name, acquired Pressplay in a deal worth $39.5 million.

That acquisition left Venables’ standing somewhat in question; but no new review for Napster was ever launched and the shop will now craft ads rebranding Pressplay as Napster. The brand will operate as a for-pay music site, rather than as a free service.

Though the budget to reintroduce Napster has not been finalized, Pressplay’s ad expenditure was to be $20 million, and sources said that is likely to be the amount that will now be spent on Napster.

The other finalists for Pressplay were Dentsu’s Colby & Partners in Santa Monica, Calif., and Interpublic Group’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and Omnicom’s BBDO, both in San Francisco.

Independent Mediasmith in San Francisco, which already works for Roxio, will now handle offline and online media planning and buying for Napster, a client representative said. Roxio creative shop Modernista! in Boston continues to work for the Roxio software brand, the rep added.