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Rhapsody revives CEO position, hires mobile vet as interim chief

The streaming-music forefather, often overshadowed by flashier rivals like Spotify or Apple's Beats Music, says growth is gangbusters enough to revive the position of CEO after a four-year absence.

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Rhapsody, growing under the radar, has hired an interim CEO as it searches for a permanent top exec. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Rhapsody is resurrecting its office of CEO, as the forebear of streaming-music services banks on its own resurrection of sorts.

The company on Wednesday appointed David Hose, who has served as an adviser and investor to a slew of early-stage mobile and music companies, as its interim chief executive, a spokeswoman said, adding that the company's growth this year led the board to bring on additional management. Employees were informed of the hire earlier Wednesday. Rhapsody confirmed that the board is conducting a search for a permanent CEO but has no timeline for concluding that process.

The addition of Hose isn't the result of any immediate executive departures, but it follows an executive reshuffling in September 2013 that left the company without a single executive at the helm.

Rhapsody, often lost in the din of shiny new startups and tech giants ramping up in the streaming music space, has been staging a comeback under the radar. The company pioneered the format in 2001, but in recent years it has been overshadowed in the public eye by the likes of rapidly growing Spotify; marketing powerhouse Beats Music acquired by Apple for $3 billion; and streaming services from giants like Google and Amazon.

However, it hit 2 million paying subscribers in July, less than two years after it took the company nearly a decade to reach its first million. That figure doesn't include customers through its increasing number of partnerships with telecom providers like T-Mobile's UnCarrier offering in the US. By comparison, Spotify announced it had 10 million paid subscribers in May, the same month that Apple's Beats Music disclosed 250,000 paying members after four months in operation.

Rhapsody sees an opportunity to bring its namesake music service Rhapsody and international brand Napster to a wider audience in the next year, with Hose as a guide, the company said in a statement.

Hose most recently founded and ran Soundwall, a start-up that makes software to create "wireless connected canvases" that combine art and music. He also started SignalSoft, an early software business in the mobile location space, and took it public. Over the past 10 years, Hose invested, advised and served on boards for early-stage companies in mobile advertising and analytics and other realms, as well as advising companies such as Siemens, Verizon and RealNetworks.

Rhapsody has gone without a chief executive since it was spun off from RealNetworks in 2010 into a standalone company. Since then, Rhapsody's head executive has been its president, but since an executive reshuffling and round of layoffs in September 2013, the company has been run by an operating committee of top management.