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Google VP Merrill To Head EMI Digital: Major Challenges Ahead

LONDON (Hypebot) — EMI has named Google’s VP of Engineering and one of its most senior global executives, Douglas Merrill, to lead its growing digital music business. As President, Digital Business, EMI Music, He will lead a new global team responsible for all of EMI’s digital strategy and global technology. Merrill starts work April 28th based on LA and will report directly to Guy Hands.

Grabbing a senior staffer from one of tech's hottest companies is a coup for Hands as he works to reshape a struggling EMI. There has been talk in the last year of major labels courting executives from tech. But perhaps because of the challenges facing the music industry vs. the larger paydays offered by technology; few have made the leap.

Why Merrill? "I have two passions. One is creating platforms and tools that make it easier for consumers to achieve their goals. The other is music," he states. "This exciting new role at EMI is a unique opportunity for me to be able to put those two passions to work together."

But Merrill faces challenges beyond his control. His innovations are only as successful as the artists driving them, and thus far EMI has not offered new A&R initiatives. And Merrill may find that he can put his Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton to good use at EMI. Google's corporate culture is quite different than major label's or at investment firms like EMI owner Terra Firma or Charles Schwab where Merrill worked previously.

Guy Hands, CEO of Terra Firma and Chair of EMI clearly thinks Merrill is right for the job. "Douglas is a proven agent of change who combines broad business intellect with a deep engineering background. He has been a key member of the management team at Google which has created more value than any other consumer internet company by focusing relentlessly on tools that enable consumers to do things more effectively. His experience, talents and his ability to drive innovation will be enormously valuable to EMI and to its artists.“

Merrill joined Google late in 2003. During his five years with the company, rose to chief information officer and vp of engineering. He has led multiple strategic efforts including Google’s 2004 IPO. He was also responsible for the 2006 launch of Google Checkout and in 2007 was tasked with leading the turnaround of Google’s radio advertising business. Previously, Merrill was a senior vice president at Charles Schwab and Co.