Napster named a former senior Bertelsmann executive as its new CEO yesterday.

Konrad Hilbers has been with Germany-based media conglomerate Bertelsmann since 1992. He replaces Napster's interim CEO Hank Barry, who will remain on Napster's board of directors.

The new CEO has served as chief administrative officer of BMG Entertainment for the last six months, the music division of Bertelsmann. He was also executive vice president and chief operating officer for AOL/Bertelsmann Europe, which was at the time jointly owned by America Online and Bertelsmann, and is now owned by AOL Time Warner.

The Hilbers move is the latest twist in the complicated relationship between the two companies. Bertelsmann was one of the major music labels that initially filed a copyright lawsuit against Napster, but in the midst of that lawsuit, BMG and Napster formed an alliance in October 2000 to develop a paid subscription membership service.

In June, Napster signed a licensing deal with MusicNet, the upcoming online subscription music service which is a joint venture operated by Bertelsmann, AOL Time Warner, EMI and RealNetworks.

Napster hopes to offer a two-tired paid-music subscription service by the end of this year. Users will be able to subscribe to a basic Napster service, which will focus on small artists and independent record labels, or a premium service that will include music from the major labels, Barry said at the time.

Napster is pushing ahead with the planned launch of it new membership service, and Hilbers' first task will be to oversee the launch which is still expected by the end of August.