July 10, 2002 2:05 PM PDT

Pressplay music service loses CEO

Pressplay, the online music subscription service backed by Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, is losing its head.

CEO Andy Schuon is leaving the fledgling online venture after just 13 months at the helm, the company said Wednesday. Schuon is taking a job as president of programming at Infinity Radio, that company said.

Schuon will be replaced by Pressplay's chief operating officer, Michael Bebel, the company said.

"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," Universal Music Chairman Doug Morris and Sony Music CEO Thomas Mottola said in a joint statement. "We are grateful to Andy Schuon for the role he has played in building and launching the company."

Like its competing online music subscription services, Pressplay has struggled to gain traction in the market over the last seven months, finding it difficult to compete against free, unauthorized services such as Kazaa and Morpheus, which offer large quantities of music for download.

Pressplay has gone further than its other authorized rivals by offering subscribers limited ability to burn songs to a CD or transfer them to portable devices, and it has won qualified kudos from reviewers as a result. But it still lacks access to the catalogs of two of the Big Five record labels.

Rival MusicNet, which is backed by EMI Recorded Music, Warner Music Group and BMG Entertainment, has similarly struggled to sign up customers.

Independent services from Listen.com and FullAudio have gained ground in recent months, signing new deals with labels. But they have yet to prove they can sign up subscribers in large numbers.

Before joining Pressplay, Bebel served as an executive vice president of Universal Music's eLabs division, where he helped form the original Pressplay project.

News.com's Jim Hu contributed to this report.


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