The new "Listen" button on Facebook musician pages does exactly what you think it should do: It plays that artist's music, for free and for as long as you want to play it. The only catch is that you have to be a Spotify user, or it doesn't work at all. Former Facebook president and current Spotify backer Sean Parker must be thrilled.
Over two decades ago, Parker embarked on a mission to assemble an online community around music, to build a tool that gave them easy access to that music and, eventually, a way to talk to each other. Napster, created by Parker's partner, Sean Fanning, never quite made it to the third part of that equation -- turns out it was pretty illegal -- but after his tenure at Facebook, it was no surprise when Parker helped Spotify forge an airtight relationship at the social network. When he profiled Parker for Vanity Fair in 2010, David Kirkpatrick remarked how the young billionaire "thinks he can finish the job that he and Fanning started with Napster -- this time, legally." Since then, Spotify has grown faster than Netflix, and now that its integrated deeply into Facebook's artist pages, that growth is likely to accelerate. Napster may be dead, but the dream lives on.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.