RealTime IT News

Former BMG Exec to Head AOL Music

In what can be seen as a coup in the digital music space, AOL Time Warner Inc. Wednesday said it lured former BMG Entertainment executive Kevin Conroy to the newly-created position of head of its digital music division.

Conroy, who left BMG a week ago, will lead AOL Music's strategy, which includes including the company's online relationships with major record labels and the roll-out of its digital music subscription service. Conroy will also coordinate the giant's online music properties, including Spinner, Winamp and the AOL Music Channel.

Conroy was formerly chief marketing officer and president of new technology for BMG Entertainment, the music and entertainment arm of Bertelsmann AG.

With his guidance, BMG has become a force in the development and distribution of online music through efforts like the GetMusic joint venture with Universal Music Group and through its investments in and strategic relationships with a broad range of media and technology companies.

"Only AOL Time Warner has all of the pieces needed to lead this industry to the next level -- tens of millions of subscribers and users, an incredible library of great albums and songs, an industry-leading technological infrastructure and some of the world's best-known recording artists," Conroy said.

Conroy's statement suggests AOL just might be able to do things better in terms of forging ahead in the digital music arena where BMG has made unquestionably significant progress by incurring revenue streams.

Last October, Bertelsmann took a leap of faith when it pledged to help embattled Napster transform its song-swap schema into a fee-based service that pays royalties. BMG also launched its digital downloading program.

Conroy's move comes at an interesting time as BMG has been garnering its share of press for the expansion of its digital music program, which this week added more than 2,900 tracks from popular artists like Dave Matthews Band and TLC.

The situation may also raise eyebrows because BMG lost Tom McIntyre, its executive vice president and chief financial officer, with Conroy -- and two weeks ago hired former journalist Rolf Schmidt-Holtz as CEO.

Schmidt-Holtz filled the position left vacant by BMG veteran Rudi Glassner, who died of a heart attack before he was to take over the top executive post.