i.20: Dimamond Multimedia's J.D. Heilprin

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In the Web or at retail, there are now a bevy of portable MP3 players for playing back music downloaded from the Internet, like the ones from mainstream consumer electronics brands Samsung, RCA and Sony.

But Diamond Multimedia's Rio player was first. The Rio popularized the format, and soon the small players became a must-carry for ultracool hipsters and music aficionados. As the originator of the device, Diamond, which creates Internet audio and gaming products, wanted to extend its leadership in the interactive multimedia space and invited J.D. Heilprin to join its team in March.

DEALS WITH MTV, UNIVERSAL

Mr. Heilprin's extensive music industry experience was a plus, considering less than a year ago Diamond was embroiled in a lawsuit over copyright issues with the Recording Industry Association of America. Diamond, it turns out, won the lawsuit to resolve its claims, due in no small part to Mr. Heilprin's ability to manage industry relations. It also has just spun off RioPort into its own company.

"One thing I'm really spearheading is our relationship with the major record companies," he says, adding, "We have to deliver major artists from major labels and have to be a leader in the security area."

Besides working with the music industry, Mr. Heilprin also negotiated important multiyear deals with Viacom's MTV Networks that make RioPort the MTV brands' exclusive partner for delivering all digital downloads.

"It's our strategy to deliver the content powered by RioPort," Mr. Heilprin says. He also pulled off a similar deal with Universal.

`BEST OF DOWNLOADABLE MUSIC'

What is Mr. Heilprin's goal? To advance RioPort's various assets--its Web presence, design and development groups.

"We're trying to offer consumers the very best of downloadable music, but our mission goes beyond music," Mr. Heilprin says. He envisions new content segments such as education, comedy, motivation, sports and health.

RioPort also is currently developing new Internet appliances and equipment.

"Our mission was to create and execute on a platform for delivering digital audio to consumers, but our overall mission today is to take that platform and deliver a lot of content to consumers in a very simple manner," he says.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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