Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Myspace Music President Courtney Holt Leaving

This one was only a matter of time: Myspace Music head Courtney Holt is stepping down.

Sources say Holt doesn’t have another post lined up. But the real news is that he was still at the site, which is a joint venture between Myspace and the major music labels.

Myspace parent company News Corp. is in the process of selling off all or part of the flailing social network/entertainment portal. And the big labels have been grumbling about the JV for some time. Holt came aboard two years ago, after running digital music for Viacom’s MTV.

Myspace Music will continue to operate for now, and Myspace CEO Mike Jones will add the venture to his management role. News Corp. declined to comment; I haven’t heard back from Holt yet.

It’s the only major Web site in the U.S. that offers free, legal music streaming, and it continues to draw significant traffic. Generating enough ad revenue to pay for all that free music has always been an issue for the site, though. At one point the plan was to turn all or part of the venture into a paid service, though that was eventually tabled.

I’m told Holt isn’t leaving News Corp. (which also owns this Web site) altogether, and will continue to advise digital czar Jon Miller for a while. Former Myspace co-president Jason Hirschhorn got a similar consulting position when he left the company last year.

It’s a safe bet to assume that Holt will get a high-powered gig somewhere else in the digital music business, as long as he wants one: He’s well-regarded by both Web industry executives and the music guys. Google, for instance, could use someone who gets both sides of the business as it prepares to launch its own music service; I wouldn’t be shocked if he landed at Apple, either.

And Spotify, the music industry’s next big hope, has already tried to land Holt for its open chief operating officer position, but at the time Holt didn’t want to leave Los Angeles and head to London. Perhaps he’ll be more interested now.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald