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eMusic CEO leaves for venture capital firm

David Pakman is leaving eMusic, a service that embraced open MP3s early on and has outlived most of its rivals.

David Pakman, eMusic CEO

David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, is leaving the online music service at the end of the year, he said in an interview with CNET News on Monday.

Pakman said he is departing after five years at eMusic to become a partner at a venture capital firm. He declined to specify which firm.

An important part of Pakman's legacy at eMusic is that the company continues to exist. How many CEOs of digital music stores have been around for five years or longer? I can think of only one: Apple's Steve Jobs.

Pakman has watched stores from MTV, Microsoft, Sony, Yahoo, and AOL come and go. "We outlasted almost every other digital entity in the space," Pakman said. "We've proven the business model, growing the company by five times. I've had an amazing team."

That business model he referred to was based on selling music subscriptions to a niche market. Unlike Napster, or Yahoo's now shuttered music store, eMusic sold music in the MP3 format, which allowed songs to play on any digital music player.

Because the big music labels didn't want their songs distributed without copy-protection software on them, they shunned eMusic for years. The service carved out a niche by selling music from unsigned artists or those with smaller labels. Pakman's strategy has been vindicated now that the big recording companies have acknowledged erring in their MP3 strategy by embracing the format.

His relationship with eMusic remains a good one and he will have a role in helping to find a successor, he said.