You've got to give Ben Drury 10 out of 10 for tenacity. The co-founder/CEO of U.K. digital-music platform 7digital has turned a clunky startup launched in 2004 into a slick international multiplatform distributor.
"Surviving the last eight-and-a-half years, despite the credit crunch and music-industry [instabilities], is an achievement in itself," he says. Drury, 37, who is on the board of the United Kingdom's Entertainment Retailers Assn. and the Official Charts Co., remains steadfast to 7digital's core strategy: to make its licensed tracks (currently 20 million) accessible via its Web store and the digital services offered by its 300-plus major-brand partners, including Samsung, HTC, Microsoft and HMV (7digital's noncontrolling 50% shareholder).
Using its scalable open-API technology, it powers downloadable, streaming and cloud-locker services on any digital format, any desktop or mobile device, and any operating system in 35 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the United States. Drury's resolve is paying off: 7digital is profitable, revenue grows annually and U.S. mobile sales more than tripled in 2011. Its most recent coup: 7digital's first subscription-based international streaming service kick-started on Samsung's ambitious Music Hub for the new Galaxy S III smartphone in the United States and Europe this summer. By this year's end, Drury estimates, more than 100 million devices will feature the 7digital app.