AOL Searches for Head of Music Business, Hires Recruiter Spencer Stuart

AOL Inc. is on the hunt for a person to run its music business, helping Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong reverse sales declines at the Internet company spun off from Time Warner Inc. last year.

Recruiting firm Spencer Stuart was hired to conduct the executive search, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed by AOL, which is based in New York. AOL wants a vice president to lead a group that “will be responsible for defining and producing the user experience on AOL’s music site,” according to the memo.

Armstrong, named CEO in April 2009 after nine years at Google Inc., is adding content to keep AOL’s millions of monthly users more loyal to the site and he’s selling businesses considered too expensive to turn around. In digital music, AOL will face competition from companies including Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Google, which bought digital music site Simplify Media Inc. this year.

The hire will be in charge of “contributing to the growth of AOL’s revenue by defining market trends and opportunities, creating a relevant business model and developing new digital- related services, products and capabilities,” the memo says.

AOL spokeswoman Caroline Campbell confirmed the validity of the memo, which is dated May 2010, and said the search remains under way. Spencer Stuart spokesman Jim Horton declined to comment.

AOL dropped 15 cents to $20.86 at 12:57 p.m. on the New York Stock Exchange. Before today, it had declined 9.8 percent this year, compared with the 1.9 percent decline in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The company said in April that first-quarter profit tumbled 58 percent as advertising sales plunged.

Armstrong Recruits

AOL, spun off from Time Warner in December, is trying to reignite growth by investing in specialized Web sites and producing more original news and features. AOL said in February it hired former Google executive David Eun to oversee more than 80 sites, including Politics Daily and video creator StudioNow.

The memo from Spencer Stuart says the new hire will report to AOL’s senior vice president of entertainment. The person will be responsible for turning the unit into “one of AOL’s highest performing content businesses,” the memo says. AOL’s music site currently offers news on artists as well as videos and pictures.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Levy in San Francisco at alevy5@bloomberg.net.

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