EMI digital chief out after short stint

Cory Ondrejka promoted

EMI Music said on Monday its president of digital music, Douglas Merrill, the ex-Google Inc. executive who joined less than a year ago, is leaving the company as his unit is being integrated into its main operations.

Merrill's arrival at the struggling EMI was heralded as a big catch for the company in its move to become a more digital savvy business as traditional CD sales continue to plunge for all music companies.

EMI, home to artists like Coldplay, Kylie Minogue and Beatles catalog, said it has promoted Cory Ondrejka to a newly created role of executive vice president of digital marketing. Ondrejka, a co-founder of virtual world Second Life, joined EMI as senior vice president of digital strategy in June 2008, just two months after Merrill.

London-based EMI said digital music sales now make up more than a fifth of all its revenues and the company is completing the integration of all digital functions into its business operations and will no longer run a stand-alone digital unit. Merrill had previously overseen the digital unit.

Most traditional music companies have struggled to transform their businesses as fewer people buy CDs and many retail outlets have closed down. Many music fans now download or stream songs on their computers, mobile phones and digital media players.

EMI, which was taken private in a 2.4 billion pound ($3.5 billion) deal in 2007, has lost market share especially in the United States, with Warner Music Group replacing it as the third largest music company.