Courtney Holt, MTV's chief of digital music, has told friends he will accept the job as MySpace Music's new CEO, according to a source close to Holt.
His name is not yet on the dotted line, but Holt has given a verbal commitment to MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, said a music industry source. MySpace Music is the newly launched digital music service formed by News Corp. and the four largest recording companies. The service will sell downloads of unprotected Mp3s and offer ad-supported streaming music.
"Anything can happen when there isn't a signature, but it looks like he's the new CEO," said the music industry insider.
I realize I've written the story of MySpace Music's prolonged CEO search into the ground since reporting last week that Holt was offered the job. But here's why: beyond MySpace Music, there doesn't appear to be any serious iTunes challengers coming down the pike. None of iTunes previous challengers came from social networking or started out with an audience the size of MySpace's. Holt appears to be the new CEO so we might as well start sizing up who he is and whether he has the vision to help develop an iTunes alternative.
What I find laughable is hearing DeWolfe say that MySpace Music isn't competing with iTunes.
"I think (Apple is) focused on selling devices, and that's why I don't think they're competitive to us," DeWolfe said during a panel session at the Web 2.0 Summit on Thursday.
Yes, Apple has sold a lot of devices, but iTunes has also sold more than 5 billion songs. Fact: anyone selling digital music obtained from the major labels is competing with iTunes. The digital music store is the No. 1 music retailer in the country offline or on. Come on Chris, you're guy Courtney isn't leaving MTV just to take on iMeem. The brass ring in this contest is taking down iTunes, or more realistically, snatching away a few percentage points of market share.
What Holt brings with him to the job, if not a marquee name, is plenty of experience with digital music. Before moving to MTV, Holt was senior vice president of New Media & Strategic Marketing at Interscope Geffen and head of New Media at A&M Records. He's well respected at the major labels...especially at Universal Music Group.
It's interesting to note that both Interscope and A&M are owned by UMG, the largest recording company. Will Doug Morris, UMG's CEO, have more influence over MySpace Music's direction than the chiefs of the other labels?
DeWolfe said during the conference that MySpace interviewed about 40 people for the job and that the company made only one offer. He told the audience "We're very confident that we'll be able to make an announcement in the near future."