Updated at 1:30 p.m. PST to include Best Buy's decision to eliminate CEO and president positions.
Best Buy has decided that the Napster music service is too top heavy and eliminated the music service's CEO and president positions, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Chris Gorog announced that he is leaving as CEO, a move that comes some 15 months after the Web music service wason the company's blog. Brad Duea, Napster's president, is also leaving the company, the spokeswoman said. She said Best Buy wanted to "streamline Napster's executive structure."
Christopher Allen, Napster's chief operating officer, will run the site and has been named Napster's general manager.
"We began with a simple idea--legalizing Napster," Gorog wrote, "and spent almost a decade trying to perfect that dream."
That dream went largely unfulfilled--that is, if it included building a large audience and generating significant revenues. The original Napster was started by a then teen-aged Shawn Fanning as a pioneering file-sharing service that enabled anyone to download unauthorized music. The people who purchased the Napster name tried to cash in on the brand by turning it into a completely legal subscription service.
At best, the efforts were met with mixed results. Napster plummeted in popularity and has been eclipsed by many competitors.
In addition, subscription services have failed to stir music fans, and the reason typically given is that people don't like renting music. As with most subscription offerings, Napster subscribers lose access to their songs once they stop paying for them. In his post, Gorog, who plans to start his own company sometime in the future, defended Napster's business model.
"We were criticized at times for 'renting' music," he wrote. "But we thought then--and still believe quite strongly--that we had a better approach to digital music. Why buy downloads when for a small monthly fee you can have access to everything?
"I believe over the next decade the idea of 'owning' entertainment content in the digital age will become a passe concept," he continued. (It will be) replaced by paying a fair fee for access to everything. All the music, movies, and games your heart desires."
Indeed, there are plenty of people in the music business looking for new ideas on how to make paid subscriptions more palatable to fans.