Summary:

After more than a year sucking Last.fm’s energies over to America, is CBS (NYSE: CBS) finally letting the music site have a bit of London fu…

Last.fm logo on red brick wall
photo: Dan Taylor

After more than a year sucking Last.fm’s energies over to America, is CBS (NYSE: CBS) finally letting the music site have a bit of London fun again?

CBS Interactive Music Group is appointing Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music exec Matthew Hawn as Last.fm’s vice president of product, based at its office off the capital’s Old Street.

It’s a new role, suggesting – after Last.fm’s co-founders and many of its key staff departed when CBS deployed the site’s technology for U.S. commercialisation – the service could once again be ready to start innovating from the area folk are now calling “Silicon Roundabout”.

Co-founders Martin Stiksel, Felix Miller and Richard Jones left in summer 2009, two years after Last.fm’s $280 million acquisition by CBS. Their exits left something of a hole.

But CBS says Hawn, part of what is now a four-strong London leadership team, will lead “direction and execution in user experience and design, product development and concept creation” – many of the things for which Last.fm was first recognised. He is tasked with finding “new innovations in partnerships and business strategy”.

According to the release: “Matthew joins the team as part of a broader set of investments that CBS Interactive Music Group is making to help Last.fm give users the best recommendations for music, artists, songs, events and personalised radio.”

CBS Interactive Music Group’s own product VP Fred McIntyre, who – under group president David Goodman – had been overseeing Last.fm from the U.S., tells paidContent:UK…

This hire rounds out the Last.fm leadership team in London. Matthew joins Phil Wilson who leads Technology, Miles Lewis who leads sales and Simon Moran who leads Business Affairs.

“We’ve spent a considerable amount of time recruiting for this position. After an exhaustive search and deliberation, Matthew was our first choice, and we’re pleased to have him join us.

“While we have been recruiting, David Goodman and myself have spent a considerable amount of time in the London office.”

It was always going to be a challenge integrating Last.fm’s laid-back, Shoreditch developer culture with CBS’ suited, results-driven conglomerate. CBS has since used Last.fm’s technology to power its suite of online radio offerings and to drive advertising sales and marketing sponsor partnerships State-side.

The site had jettisoned about 20 of its 95 staff at the time and abandoned its on-demand music features to save costs. After the co-founders’ exit, Last.fm’s heads of music, systems and development also left.

This March, McIntyre told me told me the site should turn its first profit this year. But McIntyre won’t confirm whether that target has been achieved, saying CBS does not break out divisional revenue breakdowns.

Hawn was previously the VP for Sony Music’s direct-to-consumer group, finding ways to exploit the new, disintermediated methods of taking artists to listeners in marketing, CRM and ecommerce. Before that, he was in Sony Music’s global digital business group.

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