As the dust settles on a massive layoff round at Yahoo, there’s this: Yahoo Music was a major part of the downsizing, according to sources disclosing information to Digital Music News. Yahoo representatives declined to share any details beyond its top-level, 2,000+ layoff round, though one informed source pointed us to exits that include John Lenac (Head of Programming & Artist/Label Relations) and Gina Juliano (Director of Programming). Other members of Lenac’s staff are also understood to be packing and ‘cleaned out,’ according to a separate source.
We’ve been unable to directly connect with either individual, and others at the group have not responded to inquiries. But this doesn’t look good. Separately, a third source pointed to an ‘evisceration‘ and ‘dismantling‘ of the group – strong words – and the strategy surrounding Yahoo Music seems to be in disarray. It’s been a rough week: we’ve been tipped to lots of exits, a sharply-reduced or redeployed staff, and a totally reoriented model. “It’s been getting ripped apart,” one source working with the group flatly shared.
This may be overdue. Separately, executives have been criticizing Yahoo Music for harboring a broadly-shaped, more generalist model that seems like a crusty internet throwback. “Yahoo Music suffers from paralysis caused by an inability to find an identity,” one source relayed, while comparing the site to more focused models like Pandora, Spotify, or even Shazam. “People use those services and can understand them, they’re specific, they do something specific that people need and want.”
That said, Yahoo Music – just like its struggling AOL Music peer – has impressive levels of traffic. Monthly uniques push past 6 million with the 18-34 demographic alone, according to comScore, though that’s only half the battle. After all, how valuable are these masses, anyway?
Perhaps it’s a broader question (and struggle) for the music space, but a particularly acute one for Yahoo. “The generalist music strategy was never a good strategy,” the second source relayed. “Yahoo Music, like AOL Music and other attempts to be a media portal destination, are failed strategies. The difference with MTV.com is that they’ve been serving their television shows, instead of developing a stand-alone music fan site.”
That said, a dialed-in ex-Yahooer noted that pages won’t be removed, even through the underlying ideas are getting stripped away. “You can’t be a catch-all, ‘hey music fans’ type of site. The clock has run out on that idea,” the source noted. “Will there be a music-dot-yahoo-dot-com? Yes. But will it be integral to the future success to Yahoo? No. Has the traffic been good? No. Has this content been consistently interesting to advertisers? No.”
Not exactly an illustrious chapter for Yahoo Music. But there’s history here, and inside the industry, Yahoo Music has become an odd sort of fixture. Alumni include Ian Rogers, Jay Frank, and David Goldberg, not to mention Jeff Bronikowski. Perhaps it’s now Lenac’s turn to helm a fresh startup, and ascend towards greater industry glow.
More as more details become available.