Riccardo Usuelli, GM of the Italian indie label Sugar, is leaving the company at the end of this month to become director-general of the ad-funded download start-up company Downlovers.

Downlovers opened for business in the summer and "is the first service of its kind in Europe," Usuelli says, with labels generating revenue from advertising that accompanies each track.

Usuelli adds: "We have the Warner, Edel and Sugar catalogs and plan to expand. For the moment Downlovers only operates in Italy, but we intend to extend to France, Spain and the rest of Europe in the near future."

Downlovers is a partnership between digital service provider Kiver and event organizer It's Cool. Downlovers, like Sugar, is based in Milan.

Sugar, whose roster includes tenor Andrea Bocelli and MTV Europe Music Award winning acts Elisa and Negramaro, have no plans to replace Usuelli, who joined the company as GM in 2003.