RealTime IT News

Sony, Universal Nix "Duet" for "pressplay"

Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group late Monday scrapped the original title of its pending, New York City-based online music subscription service in favor of a more precise name -- "pressplay."

Also, the company revealed who would be at the helm of the much-hyped service, slated to air late this summer; Andy Schuon will skipper the ship as president and chief executive officer, with Michael Bebel serving as chief operating officer.

Schuon will run all of pressplay's operations, including the launch of the online subscription service, the management of its technical operations and the overall branding and development of the service. Bebel will oversee the business affairs, finance, and day-to-day operations of the company as well as lead its technology implementation. pressplay will have offices in New York and Los Angeles.

As the former president and COO of Jimmy and Doug's Farmclub.com, Schuon has serious experience in online music. Previously, he served as executive vice president and general manager of Warner Brothers Records, and as the top programmer at MTV for several years, where he brought such phenoms as "Alternative Nation" and "MTV Live" to fruition.

Prior to his appointment at pressplay, Bebel served as Executive Vice President, Business Development and Strategic Planning for Universal Music Group's eLabs, where he was responsible for the development of e-commerce enterprises and business opportunities.

Upon the announcement, Bebel said in a public statement: "We already have the support of two of the world's largest music companies and Yahoo!, and we hope to get as many music companies and online affiliate partners on board as possible by the time we launch."

The powers behind what up until now had been slugged Duet have been doing as much. Universal's mother company Vivendi scooped up EMusic.com Inc. and MP3.com in the last few months in the hopes of bolstering their technological prowess and content offerings to do battle with AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann AG and Emi Group plc.'s MusicNet initiative. In each faction, members of the Big 5 tapped major Internet firms -- Yahoo! for Duet, RealNetworks Inc. for MusicNet -- for access to users and technology, respectively.

Like its pending rival MusicNet, pressplay is a subscription music service that will offer consumers the opportunity to download and stream songs on-demand. Each service will feature a secure delivery system designed to respect artists' rights. pressplay will let music lovers compile personalized play lists and to share them with other pressplay members.