Industry Moves: Second Life Co-Founder Ondrejka Becomes EMI Music Digital SVP

EMI Music is hiring Linden Lab co-founder and developer guru Cory Ondrejka to the new position of digital strategy SVP, in a move it says will “drive innovation around new revenue opportunities and build a world-class engineering team for the company”.

After EMI Music lured Googler Douglas Merrill to be digital president in April, the label seems more determined that its turnaround lay in constructing innovative online projects for artist distribution and marketing. Like Merrill, Ondrejka, a San Franciscan, will be based in LA.

Ondrejka: “EMI presented me with a rare opportunity to influence the digital music industry, by helping artists reach their fans in more relevant ways and by allowing fans to find and acquire music through new business models. The technology is available to make the music experience better. I intend to apply it and to find new ways to drive innovation.”

It also marks a waning of Second Life, which Ondrejka helped found and at which he became Linden CTO, before quitting after seven years in December to consult and teach. Ondrejka told me: “After seven years, Phil (Rosedale) and I had enough difference in our opinion on where the company should go next that it was time to do something else.”

He said he will implement the mission laid down by Merrill and EMI owner Guy Hands: “To connect new artists and fans and figure out the right business model so that revenue can follow. There are a bunch of different experiments out on the web – I’m going to be making sure that we’re able to go with whichever of the strategies is working.”

For Ondrejka, that will centre on both discoverability and accelerating the purchase process, which he says is still too complex. “There are few things more frustrating than suddenly realising there’s this new music out there from R.E.M. and I want it, but getting it was frighteningly problematic. Why should it be hard? In 2008, we should be able to do a better job of making sure there’s a way for you to pay the band.” There won’t be one strategy (“there’s no magic bullet”); rather, different technologies will be used that pertain to different genres, fans and outlets.

(Pic: Joi Ito)