AOL began to shut down its AOL Music properties and comic books site in April, but tomorrow it will announce it’s sold music sites The BoomBox, The Boot and Noisecreep, plus Comics Alliance to Townsquare Media Group, the Connecticut-based radio station owner that acquired the MOG Music network of blogs last year.
The deal, whose terms were undisclosed, puts the properties back under the stewardship of Townsquare’s executive vice president Bill Wilson, who was formerly the president of AOL Media during the time the sites launched in 2008-2009 and helped develop them. Some of the staffs of these sites are joining Townsquare. [Update/Correction: Specifically, the full staff of Comics Alliance has signed on with Townsquare. However, some former employees of the AOL Music blogs were not even aware of the acquisitions deals at press time. Some may join, but others are interviewing elsewhere and are unlikely to go to Townsquare.]
Other AOL Music properties including its flagship AOL Music site, Winamp developer Nullsoft, the Spinner blog were not acquired and there’s no word from Townsquare as to what will happen to them. We’ve contacted AOL and are awaiting word regarding the sale and what will happen to the remaining AOL Music properties. AOL bought Nullsoft and Spinner in a heft $400 million acquisition in 1999.
AOL has been trying to focus over the years, and sell non-essential assets so it can invest in those that are humming and building new products. It sold Bebo to Criterion Capital Partners in 2010, which AOL CEO Tim Armstrong had called “a major distraction”. In a much bigger financial deal, AOL sold 800 patents to Microsoft last year for $1.1 billion.
Comscore estimates the aggregate audience of the acquired properties at 3.5 million monthly unique visitors. Country site The Boot had 1.4 million, heavy metal blog Noisecreep had roughly $1 million, hip-hop property The BoomBox had 828,000, and comic books fan site Comics Alliance had 419,000 unique monthly visitors as of April.
Townsquare Media Group Chairman and CEO Steven Price says “Adding these premium brands to Townsquare Media’s comprehensive offering propels our scale beyond today’s 52 million US monthly unique visitors, allowing advertisers and agencies even greater access to this highly engaged and demographically desirable audience.”
Townsquare’s other holdings include 244 radio stations and their sites across 51 markets, 300 music and non-music events, websites including Taste Of Country and PopCrush, coupon business Seize The Deal, and a non-profit organization.
It’s a happy conclusion to what started as a sad story, when staffers of the sites were suddenly told on April 26th that they’d soon be fired. I went and met with the AOL Music team while in New York and they seemed shocked but resilient, determined to keep working in the blogging profession they loved. Now they’ll get the chance at the sites they’ve nurtured despite the rise of amateur music and comics blogging since they launched.
In a cheeky move, ComicsAlliance hinted it would be reborn in several blog posts over the last week. One titled “What Does It Mean?” showed The Lazerus Pit, a fictional location from the DC Comics universe with the power to bring the dead back to life. Another post showed a superhero coming back to life.
[Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by AOL]