Mike Isaac

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Under New Content Boss, AOL Shutters Music Division (Likely With More to Come)

aol_hand-featureAOL has shuttered its entire Music division, the company announced on Friday, laying off the few dozen employees in a division that has faltered over the past few years.

News of the layoffs leaked on Friday afternoon, as staffers who were in attendance live-tweeted their own dismissals.

AOL joins the ranks of the major portals offloading their music divisions over the past six years. 2006 saw Microsoft’s shuttering of MSN Music, while Yahoo closed the doors on its Yahoo Music services in 2008, as well as shutting down its MusicMatch service the year prior (just three years after acquiring it in 2004 for $160 million).

AOL Music, in particular, has waned in popularity with the rise of other streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora and the like, along with a series of executive departures.

That, coupled with the entrance of AOL’s new brand group CEO Susan Lyne, makes the move not an entirely surprising one. Lyne has noted in previous interviews upon first taking the job that she’d be looking hard at AOL’s existing content properties, pointing out under-performers and deciding what to do — or not do — with them.

“If we were doing everything really well already, then I wouldn’t be here,” Lyne told AllThingsD in a previous interview.

AOL did not respond to a request for comment.

While it may be the end of AOL Music proper, I’d doubt it’s the end of entertainment for AOL. Lyne comes from a background in media, running ABC’s entertainment division in the past as well as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. I figure this is a culling of slouching properties that’ll sting existing employees, while perhaps rethinking the way the brands approach content properties in the future.

A consolidation of sorts, methinks. (TBD on how that sort of approach will work for the company.)

So while that all makes sense, I’m sure it doesn’t do much for the employees being let go. Dan Reilly, one of the employees tweeting his layoff, summed it up quite nicely in a parting tweet:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work