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The Douglas Merrill defection from Google, and the South African connection

Well, well, well. It turns out that Douglas Merrill, former Google CIO, is heading off to struggling record group, EMI.

It was barely two months ago that he was out here to sell the newly launched Google South Africa to the local media. Merrill received quite a bit of criticism from bloggers at the launch for being guarded. He generally came across as flat during the presentation. Now we know why.

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Also — it was only three days ago (yes, Sunday) that Merrilll appeared on the country’s premier actuality show Carte Blanche, singing Google’s praises in prime time: Oops, again.

Has the recording industry finally woken up?
It’s particularly interesting that Merrill is moving from what is considered to be one of the most innovative companies in the world, made possible by the internet, to a struggling company that is slowly being killed off by the internet. Or rather, it’s more a case of Merrill joining EMI to save the record label and breathe life into its old business model.

It’s simple really. The music industry needs to switch to a subscription model, allow mp3 downloads, and charge a fraction of what it is currently selling music for. Record labels can do this because on the internet there are no distribution, packaging charges or cost to produce CDs. Downloading songs off the internet comes at a fractional cost. From a user point of view, users don’t mind paying for a reliable service that has variety and that is legit. It’s just got to be priced right. I guess this is why they hired Merrill.

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