Headbanging at AOL Music

What a week for AOL! 

Tuesday, the Time Warner unit began its third round of layoffs since 2007, with 700 employees, or 10 percent of the workforce, in line to get the ax. Then Thursday, AOL replaced chairman and chief executive Randy Falco — only two years into the job — with Tim Armstrong, a Google senior vice president.

Oh, and AOL’s shutting down its research unit in China, too.

So AOL deserves some headbanging distraction: Let’s focus on the official launch today of Noisecreep, the company’s new heavy metal/hard rock portal. It will be part of one of the few recent success stories at AOL, the MediaGlow division, a collection of blogs and content sites.

Noisecreep will follow the path blazed by three other AOL genre-specific music sites: theboot.com (country), spinner.com (straight down the middle rock), and theboombox.com (hip hop and r &b). These sites all wear their AOL branding lightly — so a hard-core metalhead will likely be spared the knowledge that he is hanging out on an AOL site

As AOL entertainment head Mike Rich explained the company’s entertainment content strategy: “We’re embracing fragmentation on the web. We believe consumers are starting their day in many places, so we want to make sure we have enough front portals for them to enter into that connect with something very specific and passionate for them.”

With all of its music content combined, AOL Music is at the top of the web music category, with 23 million unique visitors last month, according to Comscore.

Noisecreep, then, was a natural. The site hopes to give the heavy metal audience a fully fleshed-out experience, with categories like “metal dictionary” and “female rock report” as well as concert tour info and news.

There will be AOL studio sessions. And the site hopes to promote some lesser-known acts, giving them a shot at the big time. “We like Mastodon, Killstwitch Engage … Right now with heavy metal and hard rock, unless you’re AC/DC or Metallica, you’re not getting much play. These bands really haven’t had a big platform to say hey, here we are, here’s our music.”