The following is a developing story. Please check back for updates throughout the week, including any official confirmations or announcements from AOL.
Last year, Digital Music News broke the brutal gutting and dismantling of Yahoo Music. Turns out that wasn’t an isolated incident: according to numerous tweets and emails surfacing ahead of the weekend, AOL is now shutting down AOL Music and its subsidiary properties immediately. Staffers were getting laid off on Friday, according to preliminary (and unconfirmed) details.
AOL’s official PR pontiff has yet to confirm the carnage, but here’s a tweet directly from the inside. (Actually, it was quickly deleted, and snapped from the trash by @lorilewis).
That’s Spinner, an early internet radio pioneer transformed into an editorial, aficionado-aimed music site by AOL. Now, it’s just one of several properties getting terminated. At present, it remains unclear if any properties will remain, though it looks like AOL Radio, powered by Slacker, will survive.
Those details aside, the shutdown marks the end of a once-proud ‘music portal’ concept, one predicated on aggregating a large number of musical assets and wrapping an ad-friendly bow around it. Indeed, AOL acquired the once-proud Spinner alongside Nullsoft for $400 million back in 1999, a quaint relic of a dot-bomb era turned sour.
Fast-forward 14 years, and the whole music portal concept still draws some tonnage, though its relevance to music fans is wildly outdated. Instead, fans are now comfortable surfing across a decentralized landscape, one that might include Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Wikipedia, BitTorrent, Google, Vevo, Pandora, and a few artist and music-focused websites.
And you know how big corporations lay people off, right? The utterly dehumanizing experience typically starts with a deactivation meeting, while things like access codes, access keys and computers are simultaneously nullified and seized. You get a few boxes, and a few hours (if that) to pack it up and leave. Just ask Spinner head Dan Reilly, whose original — and quickly deleted tweet — went something like this…
“Well, we all just got laid off. AOL Music is finished.”
Now, he’s just trying to hold onto some things, even for a few days…
More details ahead.