The race to dominate Europe's soon-to-burdgeon digital music industry has begun with news that Roxio's Napster division has appointed Leanne Sharman as vice president of business development.

Sharman is Napster's first European executive and will spearhead the company's expansion into Europe. Based in London, she reports to the company's vice president of worldwide business development Brad Duea in LA, who himself reports directly to Napster and Roxio CEO Chris Gorog.

"Since relaunching Napster in the US at the end of October we have achieved tremendous market impact and awareness as a legal online music service among both consumers and the business community," said Duea. "We're delighted Leanne has joined us at this time as we look to further develop the business outside the US.

"She already has a proven track record in establishing a successful online music business and her background in European sales and marketing leaves her well placed as our person on the ground in Europe."

Sharman – a claimed Mac user – is the former vice president of sales and marketing for the now defunct in Europe. At time of writing she is featured on a section of Apple's Web site that describes the Apple Store Affiliate Program.

'Staggering statistics'

Discussing a promo deal intended to get the existence of Apple's iPod product some attention from's then-claimed monthly 1.1 million unique visitors, she says: "I have recently bought an iMac myself and love it. It would be a shame not to offer such advanced, sexy-looking, innovative products to our music consumers."

And also states: "We're thrilled that Apple have introduced this product (iPod) and are confident that there will be a continued demand from our music consumer base."

Speaking with the UK's Web User title in May 2003, Sharman revealed that almost a quarter of online music fans are over 45 years old: "These are staggering statistics and contradict the traditional thinking that teenagers are the largest consumers of music on the internet."

Meanwhile, speaking with the Guardian, also in May, she said: "This is good news for record labels and consumer brands because it shows consumers are retaining youthful interests as they grow older - effectively extending core marketing demographics."

When Vivendi shut down last year, a gloomy Sharman reportedly said: "European operations had just started to see significant revenue streams, but the decision to shut down the European operations was mostly done because of corporate strategic reasons".