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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
New boss for Napster
Napster on screen
Napster: Locked in legal battle with recording industry
Napster has named German media executive Konrad Hilbers as its new boss to lead the company's transformation into a legitimate music subscription service.

He replaces Hank Barry, who steered the online song-swap company through its landmark legal battle with the record industry.

But the new chief executive would not be drawn on when the service will be relaunched after being offline since 2 July.

Mr Hilbers has more than a decade of corporate management experience, most recently serving in senior positions at the music arm of German media giant Bertelsmann AG.

Bertelsmann became Napster's primary financial backer last October.

'Uniquely qualified'

Interim CEO Hank Barry, a lawyer who came to Napster from a venture capital firm, will remain with the company serving on Napster's board of directors.

"Konrad's extensive experience in the technology sector and the music business, in both the United States and Europe, makes him uniquely qualified to lead Napster into the future," said Barry.

His first task will be to oversee the launch of Napster's new membership-based service later this summer.

"Napster and its founder Shawn Fanning created a cultural paradigm shift, using the internet to bring together, through file sharing, the largest group of music fans ever assembled," said Mr Hilbers.

"The next step is to complete the task of transforming this phenomenon into a business that respects copyrights and rewards creators." But he would not give an indication when the service would resume.

"What matters to me is very much that the quality of the service is right when it is launched. That means certain testing, and first I need to get my hands on those plans so we can establish a new launch date," he said.

He takes over at a time when Napster is fighting copyright infringement lawsuits brought by major record labels.

The amount of time spent using Napster's online song-swapping application has tumbled 65% since February, recent research showed.

See also:

23 Jul 01 | Business
Online music sales set to soar
20 Jul 01 | Business
Napster use slumps 65%
12 Jun 01 | Business
EU opens online music probe
06 Jun 01 | Business
Victory for music giants?
30 Apr 01 | Business
Online music bonanza
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