MySpace, the popular social networking website owned by News Corp, said on Tuesday former MTV executive Courtney Holt will become president of its MySpace Music joint venture with the four major record companies.
Holt’s name has been circulating on blogs for several weeks as a likely appointee. He will take on the delicate balancing act of managing expectations for MySpace executive team and the management teams at Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music, Warner Music Group and EMI Music.
MySpace said Holt will work with MySpace co-founder and Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe to oversee the growth and development of the MySpace Music brand and its global operations. He will start his new job on January 5.
Holt was previously executive vice president of digital music for MTV Networks Music and Logo Group. Before that he was senior vice president of new media at Interscope Geffen A&M, a record label unit of Universal Music.
MySpace formally launched MySpace Music in September and has been rolling out a series of album previews and exclusive artist interviews as it aims to attract music fans to its site and boost advertising, its primary revenue source.
The company is also planning to roll out other music-related revenue streams including concert tickets and artist merchandise such as T-shirts.
News Corp, which paid $588 million for MySpace in 2005, is keen for the digital company to accelerate its revenue growth even as online advertising faces pressures due to the economic slowdown.
MySpace sees music as an important part of its strategy to attract millions of users and to increase the amount of time they spend on the site, thereby driving ad revenues.
While music has been a strong feature on MySpace since it started with artist pages, most of the soundtracks have tended to be promotional in nature rather than offered for sale. MySpace Music has changed that by adding Amazon digital links to its pages.
The music labels are keen for another major player to boost sales by driving competition to Apple Inc’s iTunes digital store, which is the No. 1 music retailer in the United States and a leading retailer in several other countries.