EXCLUSIVE: Scott Ambrose Reilly, better known to his longtime music industry friends as Bullethead, is leaving Amazon after almost 5 years to become the U.S. CEO of Stockholm based X5 Music Group. Just months ago, X5 received $9.09 million in funding from Northzone Ventures, who are also a lead investor in Spotify.
Ambrose Reilly started as a key member of the team that launched Amazon MP3 and made it iTune's most aggressive competitor. 15 months ago, he penned a farewell to the music industry and jumped to Amazon's Kindle division. But the lure of music along with what he sees as X5's unique and already successful business plan caused him to leave a team that he respected and job he says he enjoyed.
Reilly and X5 had not intended to announce that he'd be joining X5 on May 1st quite yet. But when he made a surprise appearance at our SXSW rooftop music tech meetup, I guessed that he hadn't come to Austin to make Kindle deals. In fact, Scott hadn't missed a SXSW since coming years ago as Mojo Nixon's tour manager, then as his manager and later as part of the early eMusic team.
Over lunch Thursday with Scott and X5 CEO Johan Lagerlöf, the pair shared that the company would be ramping up a 10 person team in New York City focused on content acquisition. X5 has found success by going beyond the traditional CD-to-digital release model and experimenting with digital repacking, new titles, track lisitings and more and measuring their effect on sales.
"An album called 'Amore' may not get much search traffic on iTunes, Amazon or Spotify," Lagerlöf explained over BBQ at the Ironworks. "Rename it "Love Songs Of Italy" and discovery and purchases soar. Every track is also an opportunity for discovery and thus increasing the number of tracks on an album to 20, 40 or in some classical packages even 99 tracks. not only provides value to the consumer, but can significantly increase sales, according to Lagerlöf.
Moving into additional genres will create new challenges, but that's part of Reilly's challenge and one that he's anxious to tackle. "I loved working at Amazon and their singular focus on the customer taught me a great deal. But the lure of working with a music great company who have had successes in digital music was just too strong," Scott shared. "There is only an upside for digital music right now; and I believe that X5 is on the leading edge of what's next".