Google's plans for a digital music resurfaced in the headlines again this week after Peter Kafka at AllThingsD reported that the search giant is soliciting input from music industry executives on who might best oversee such a service.

Which raises an interesting question; Who would be a good choice for Google? The person would need to have existing relationships with the music industry, knowledge of digital music distribution (or at least digital content) with perhaps an emphasis on streaming or cloud-based applications, and an understanding of the mobile industry.

While we don't know who the music industry may be recommending as candidates, here are six names likely to be swirling about in those conversations.

Jason Hirschhorn
Shortly after news of Google's executive search broke, Jason Hirshhorn updated his Facebook profile with the following: "The answer is no, I have not been contacted for the Google Music role."

Maybe not yet, but he'd be a good one to consider. Hirschhorn led the development of MTV's URGE digital music service before it was folded into Rhapsody. He then took a job as president of Sling Media's entertainment group. And most recently he was at MySpace, first as chief product officer and then as co-president.

He's a tech-savvy guy who with a natural passion for digital media. But he's also an entrepreneur and a New Yorker at heart, so the prospect of moving back into a corporate role -- particularly one in Silicon Valley -- may not be all that compelling.

Ted Cohen
Whenever a new digital music leadership role opens up, Ted Cohen's name is usually mentioned. As the former senior VP of digital development and distribution at EMI, Cohen knows the ins and outs of the business as well as anybody. He was approached to lead the original Napster back in the day, and has spent the last few years advising new digital music startups in his role as managing partner of TAG Strategic, a consultancy firm he founded.

However, Cohen is a bit of a high-profile maverick who is probably better off running his own company than trying to fit into a rigid corporate reporting structure. He's the kind of guy who likes to wear a lot of different hats (program chair for MidemNet, panel moderator extraordinaire, guest author, etc.), so limiting him to just one role may not be the best use of his talents.

Ian Rogers
As CEO of the direct-to-fan platform Topspin, Ian Rogers is one of the leading voices of the new music industry. He has a strong background in digital music, most notably as GM of Yahoo Music. He also has a long history working in digital marketing and management for such acts as the Beastie Boys. His background as a programmer would fit in very well in a culture like Google. Rogers also has some very strong ideas about how music should be best offered to fans in digital formats, focusing on ubiquity and flexibility, which also fits well into Google's philosophy.

Paul Vidich
The former WMG executive VP of strategic planning and business development also spent time as a special advisor to AOL, and has extensive experience with streaming and on-demand digital media. Paul Vidich is currently an independent board member, advisor and investor in multiple digital music and content companies, including Brightcove, ReverbNation, MediaNet, Qloud, and Melodeo. Lately he's been more into startups, but that entrepreneurial spirit may serve Google well in establishing a new unit with an established company.

David Ellner
Now the president of digital and business development for 19 Entertainment, David Ellner is the former executive VP of global digital initiatives for Universal Music Group and previously held several executive roles at Universal Records. Google's closest ally in the music space today is UMG, with whom it partnered (through YouTube) on the Vevo online music video hub.

UMG's Doug Morris and Google's Eric Schmidt are know to have collaborated on ideas for digital music and video after U2's Bono introduced them to each other. So it's not too big a stretch to assume Google may be looking at UMG's talent base (or alumni) for help in leading its music strategy.

Other UMG names that might pop up include: Rio Caraeff, the golden boy of UMG's digital strategies. He has a strong history in mobile content distribution and has the ear of Morris. However, he's now the CEO of Vevo, his brainchild, and is in the process of relocating from Los Angeles to New York. Might be too early for him to look to other pastures. Another is Cameo Carlson, a darkhorse to be sure. Carlson has sped through the ranks at Universal Motown Republic Group to become the label's executive VP. She formerly worked at Apple in label relations and music programming, and before that spent time at AOL Music as its rock and alternative music director.

Evan Harrison
The president of Clear Channel Digital is leaving at the end of the year, perhaps with another role already in mind, perhaps not. Evan Harrison is also the former GM of AOL Music and the AOL Radio Network. At Clear Channel he drove the iheartradio online and mobile Internet radio initiative, which has proven very successful, and basically put Clear Channel on the digital music map. He formerly worked for BMG Entertainment in distribution and marketing, and helped launch the Click2Music.com service.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print