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Top Microsoft Zune Marketing Executive Leaves For Universal Music

Updated: Chris Stephenson, who has overseen global marketing for Microsoft’s Zune music player since its debut in 2006, is leaving Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to join Universal Music, the WSJ reports. Stephenson confirms he is leaving to the WSJ. At Universal, he will lead marketing for Interscope Geffen A & M Records. We’ve reached out to Microsoft representatives for comment and will update if we hear back. A Microsoft spokesman says that Jaymi Bauer, who helped with the retail launches of the Zune and Xbox 360, will take on many of Stephenson’s responsibilties.

Stephenson’s departure comes less than a month before the next model of the Zune, the Zune HD, is set to launch. So far, the new Zune — which features a touch screen, high-definition video, and an internet browser — has gained mostly accolades among reviewers.

Under Stephenson’s watch, Microsoft lately seems to be pitching the Zune — along with its related services — as a more affordable alternative to Apple’s iPod. For instance, an ad that debuted this Spring pointed out that it would cost $30,000 to fill a 120 gigabyte iPod with songs, while Zune owners could access that much music for $14.99 a month via the Zune’s unlimited music subscription service. And Stephenson himself has said that the new Zune HD — which is priced at a discount to the iPod Touch — is directly targeting the iPod Touch.