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MusicNet names execs to carry its tune

The online music service backed by RealNetworks appoints several executives to help shape its direction, including a former online music industry analyst.

MusicNet, the embattled online music service spearheaded by RealNetworks and supported by three major record labels, has appointed several executives to help shape its direction.

MusicNet named analyst Mark Mooradian, formerly of Jupiter Media Metrix, as its senior director of strategic planning and business development. Mooradian will be responsible for expanding MusicNet's distribution relationships beyond its current deals with financial partners RealNetworks and AOL Time Warner's America Online unit.

Mooradian, a seven-year veteran at Jupiter, has been a visible industry analyst covering online music and media.

"On a personal level, this is an opportunity for me to move from being an analyst to stepping in and getting my hands dirty," Mooradian said in an interview Monday.

He added that his first order of business will be trying to forge relationships with online retailers, Internet service providers, online media companies and traditional offline media companies.

MusicNet, which also counts EMI Recorded Music and Bertelsmann's BMG Entertainment as corporate partners, was developed to counter free file-swapping services such as Napster and Kazaa. MusicNet requires people to pay a subscription fee in exchange for a limited amount of downloads and streams per month. The company intends to sell its package of digital songs to other Web sites, which then would resell the service to their customers.

However, the service has been roundly criticized in the press and by industry analysts as unfriendly to consumers and difficult to manage. Furthermore, the renegade free services continue to appeal to online music fans, raising questions about how much people are willing to pay for their songs.

In addition to Mooradian, MusicNet hired Cindy Charles, a former vice president of law and business affairs at Viacom's MTV Networks, as its general counsel. The company also hired Ayesha Tidwell, formerly the vice president of business services at Qpoint International, as its director of human resources, Mooradian confirmed.

MusicNet has been steadily beefing up its executive suite. In February, the company named a chief technology officer, a vice president of finance and a director of product management. Its CEO, Alan McGlade, was hired last October.