Napster is building an aggressive, experienced music-industry team to manage its UK launch this summer, recruiting a former head of music from BBC Radio 1, the company revealed this morning.

The company has appointed former Capital FM Network programme director and former Radio 1 chief Jeff Smith as programming director for its new service.

Apple meanwhile remains reticent concerning any plans to extend its US digital music industry leading iTunes Music Store service to Europe, a service it hopes to launch this year.

"Smith will be responsible for sourcing and selecting all the music from Napster's UK service from the major and independent UK labels spanning all genres," Napster said. Smith has over 18 years’ experience in the UK radio industry.

Napster UK general manager Leanne Sharman said: "Smith is a tremendous hire for us and underlines the value we place in having the most exciting and widest choice of music available through Napster UK. He has proven experience in not only responding to, but shaping, consumer tastes.

"The fact he’s chosen Napster as the vehicle to cross over from mainstream radio to online music at this time should send out a strong signal to the rest of the industry that we’re about to experience a major change in how we consume music,” she said.

"We have cherry-picked the strongest team in the market to help establish the Napster service as the premium online music experience in the UK,” she added.

Smith was a consultant to a series of high-profile UK media organizations, including BBC Worldwide and Wise Buddah Creative. From 2002 to 2003, he was head of music and programming strategy for Capital FM Network, where he managed the music policy across its seven UK stations, reaching six million listeners.

Before this, he spent two years as programme controller for London radio station 95.8 Capital FM, before which he was head of music policy at BBC Radio 1 for three years where he sat on the management board alongside the station controller. At Radio 1 he started the influential Evening Session programme and hired DJ Chris Moyles.

Napster has also hired Adam Howorth as communications director and Rob Gotlieb as marketing manager.