We’ve got no idea whether EMI’s new management knows what to do with the ailing record label. But we do know they’re good at splashy hires — the kind designed to say “Check it out, world! Definitely not your father’s music conglomerate!”
First, Guy Hands brings in Google’s (GOOG) Douglas Merrill to run digital, a move met with many approving nods from the label-unfriendly blogosphere. Now Douglas has hired Cory Ondrejka, who replaces Lauren Berkowitz as digital SVP*. Cory’s resume:
- Co-founder, Second Life parent company Linden Lab
- Visiting Professor, USC Communications program
- Six years of service in the U.S. Navy, where he held “Top Secret/SCI clearance at National Security Agency.”
- Zero experience in the music business.
What’s that, you say? You’d like to see more evidence of against-the-grain thinking? OK: See Cory’s blog today, where he announces his move (made two weeks ago, actually) — along with the news that since 2000, he’s purchased 5 albums. Ah, but surely he’s a music hound who spends tons of time cruising iTunes, or some of the other legal music source, right? Nope. “I neither buy nor hear much new music.” His explanation certainly sounds familiar to us:
Why not? I hear lots of new music I like – anything from the first couple seasons of Alias would work – but I never hear new music in the right context to buy it. When I listen to radio, I’m listening to NPR to catch up on the news. The good local music stores are all gone. When I’m working, I want to hear music I like, so I have a very low threshold for experimentation. Coworker’s iTunes shares provide a hint at something new, but DRM and the hassles of being on the wrong computer – working on a desktop when my music is on my phone and laptop – keep me from jumping onto the iTunes Music Store to make a purchase.
Note that none of this lack of purchasing is because I’m just torrenting stuff. The problem is that connecting discovery of new music to the ability to own the music is completely jacked. Even when I knew I wanted something – Accelerate – I had the problem that I was travelling with my MacBook Air, so buying a CD was useless. I had never setup the iTMS on that computer and you would be amazed at how hard Apple has made that process. It’s like they don’t want to sell me music. Then, once I did remember all the passwords I needed, I couldn’t figure out whether the iTunes download was DRM free. So I went to Amazon, which was slightly easier and made it clear the download wasn’t broken via DRM.
Then Cory humbly submits while it doesn’t seem hard to fix this mess, he’s got no idea what he’s doing, so he’ll be learning on the job. Fair enough. We look forward to getting a progress report.
*What’s become of Lauren Berkowitz, who was formerly head of digital development for EMI North America? We don’t know. She was there as of April 1, when Douglas came aboard, but we’re told she’s no longer with the company. We’re also told that Cory isn’t replacing Lauren — he’s taking a newly created job that spans across all of EMI’s territories.
See Also: EMI Gets New Digital Boss From Google
Photo: Matilde Gattoni