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Pressplay Loses CEO to Radio Post

Music: Andy Schuon moves from the online service to programming position at Infinity.


Pressplay, the fledgling online music service owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, is losing its first chief executive after 13 months on the job.

Infinity Radio, a division of Viacom International, on Wednesday named Andy Schuon, Pressplay's president and chief executive, as its president of programming. The move reunites Schuon with friend and former colleague John Sykes, the recently appointed chief executive of Infinity Broadcasting who worked with Schuon in the mid-1990s at Viacom's VH1.

Schuon departs at a crucial time for Pressplay, which launched its online music subscription services in December.

The company is working on a major upgrade aimed at making the service more competitive with the many unauthorized free sources of music online. It also has been embroiled in a lengthy antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice, which is examining the major record labels' on- line activities for evidence of anti- competitive behavior.

One of the most important battles Schuon fought at Pressplay was to try to persuade the major record labels to let subscribers accumulate and make permanent copies of the music they download. He was only partly successful, winning limited rights for subscribers to burn songs onto CD.

"His departure is unfortunate," said analyst P.J. McNealy of research firm GartnerG2, "because he has a real sense for what consumers want, especially with regards to portability of music. And he wasn't able to fully execute that vision to date."

To replace Schuon, Pressplay promoted its chief operating officer, Michael Bebel, a former Internet strategist for Universal Music Group who helped formulate the joint venture.

"Mike is an extremely talented executive with exactly the right blend of experience in music, technology and operations to lead Pressplay forward and ensure a seamless transition," Sony and Universal said in a joint statement. The record companies are, respectively, units of Sony Corp. and Vivendi Universal.

Much of Schuon's experience was in programming. And although his work at Pressplay was unfinished, Schuon said, he wanted to return to his programming roots.

"I made my first dollar in radio, and my life's work has been in programming," he said.

Infinity is one of the country's largest radio groups, with 183 stations concentrated in major metropolitan areas. But it hasn't put any of its radio feeds online, mainly because it is unconvinced it can profit by broadcasting on the Internet.

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