Doug Morris, the former head of No. 1 recording company Universal Music Group, will join Sony Corp.'s second-place Sony Music Entertainment as its chief executive, starting July 1.
Morris, 72, ceded his Universal post to Lucian Grainge in January.
At Sony, he will take over from Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, who ran the company since 2006 as a result of the merger between the music arms of Sony and Bertelsmann AG three years earlier.
Sony bought out Bertelsmann's 50 percent stake in October 2008 for $900 million.
Morris takes the reins at Sony at a difficult time for the industry, as digital music sales are flattening out and piracy continues. Last year, overall album sales fell 9.5 percent to 443 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Sony, whose artists include Avril Lavigne, the cast of "Glee," Britney Spears, Ke$ha and Michael Jackson, saw its U.S. and Canadian market share for albums slip in 2010 to 27.95 percent from 28.58 percent.
Universal, a unit of Vivendi SA, rose to 30.84 percent from 30.20 percent, Warner Music Group Corp.'s fell to 20.01 percent from 20.55 percent and EMI Group Ltd.'s rose to 10.18 percent from 9.20 percent.
Morris has been head of Universal Music since 1995, and under his direction Universal led the industry in sales for 14 straight years. He was pivotal in the creation of VEVO, the online music video partnership between Universal, Sony and Google Inc.'s YouTube.
VEVO now has about 60 million visitors a month and is the top music destination online.
Morris began his career as a songwriter, and he is credited with writing the Chiffons' 1966 hit "Sweet Talkin' Guy." He also spent 17 years at Warner Music as president of ATCO Records, and later led its Atlantic Records group as co-chairman and co-CEO.
He is a director of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, has won the president's merit award from The Recording Academy and is a board member of CBS Corp.
"I have known Doug Morris for many years, and am delighted that he has agreed to lead Sony Music Entertainment," Sony CEO Howard Stringer said in a statement. "At this critical time in the evolution of the music industry, I can think of no one more qualified as a proven executive, an innovator, a music impresario and a statesman."