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MTV Alum to Carry MusicNet Tune

If you need a skipper to helm your cutting-edge online music subscription services, it seems logical to snatch one from the world's foremost music network. That's the strategy MusicNet revealed when it introduced MTV Networks alum Alan McGlade as its first chief executive officer and president to the public Tuesday.

Fittingly, McGlade will oversee the development and rollout of the MusicNet service, which is currently being delivered to distribution partners AOL Time Warner and RealNetworks Inc., as well as programming, distribution and content relations, operations and other technology initiatives. McGlade will also serve on the MusicNet board. Backed by AOL Time Warner and RealNetworks, with partners such as EMI, Bertelsmann and Zomba, MusicNet also said it would shift headquarters from Seattle to New York City, with technology development and operations teams remaining in Seattle.

McGlade's ties to the interactive realm run deep. Before signing on with MusicNet, he served as president and CEO of The Box Music Network, a.k.a ("The Box"), an MTV Networks company that is reportedly the first interactive music television network. And before MTV, McGlade ran StarNet, a firm that provided marketing, advertising and information services to the cable television industry using digital technology.

From the time he signed on with "The Box" in 1995 to his departure, McGlade groomed 40 million households in the U.S. and abroad on the program, and eventually merged the company with MTV2. He also created Box Fusion, a Web content service that was synchronized with programming on "The Box." There, McGlade also oversaw the development of "The Box's" suite of digital video channels, as well as the launch of The Box Online, a service for ordering music videos through an Internet gateway or phone, for playback on television.

Rob Glaser, himself chairman of MusicNet's board and CEO of RealNetworks, which has a 60-percent stake in the music firm, endorsed McGlade in a public statement Tuesday: "Alan is a tremendously creative individual, who deeply understands the convergence of the music and digital media industries. I have followed Alan's successful career at The Box Music Network and MTV Networks and have long admired his vision and creativity. Alan will provide MusicNet with the leadership and direction it needs to succeed in the marketplace."

McGlade's appointment comes at an inharmonious time for the music industry, which is being scrutinized by the U.S. Justice Department for possible price-fixing and collusion; the antitrust organization is suspicious that the Big 5 recording companies are trying to squash competition among online music services.

Of course, the central issue is whether MusicNet and its rival pressplay (backed by Yahoo! and the top dog of music companies, Vivendi Universal) are aiming to browbeat competition and harm consumers by limiting choices and inflating prices. The Justice Department is also investigating whether the labels and the RIAA conspired to set higher prices for Internet radio broadcasters.

Pending no stays or setbacks, MusicNet has placed its debut at some time in November. Pressplay is due to roll out some time this fall.