The music industry is changing. That’s hardly news. But the range and diversity of digital music services emerging on the Web is news. The latest to launch publicly is Lala, a music service that has been in existence for years but only now seems to be getting its act together.
Since the Internet emerged as a place to share and swap music, back in the days when Napster was king (curse you Metallica), the music industry has struggled to cope with the changing market. Record labels don’t seem to be able to grasp that the Internet has changed everything, and that their old business models are now dead in the water. But that is slowly changing.
The big four labels are starting to broker deals which they would have balked at just a year ago, and one of these is Lala. According to TechCrunch, the site started as a CD-swapping service, and then evolved to a music hub that completely failed and ended up being shut down last summer. But now it’s back, and with a new monetization model that doesn’t include adverts at all.
On first glance, Lala looks to be just like any other digital music store. You can buy DRM-free tracks for around 90 cents, or whole albums for $7.49. In this regard, Lala is very similar to Apple iTunes and Amazon. But scratch a little deeper and there’s a lot more to the site.
Once you’ve downloaded the software, Lala scans your hard drive and adds every song in your collection to your online library. These songs, including ones you may have come by illegally, are then available to play for free on any device through the integrated media player.
You can also purchase any Web song in the huge catalog, which includes content from all four of the majors and 170,000 independents. The only catch is that the first listen is free, but after that, each track has to be bought. The good news is, it’s only 10 cents per track.
Even better, if you then decide to buy one of those 10 cents tracks for download, the 10 cents is knocked off the already low per-track price. So it’s an iTunes tribute act with sub-Amazon prices that also gives MyMP3.com style streaming, and a lot more besides.
It certainly seems to be a good, solid business model that could succeed, not only because it goes head to head with Apple and Amazon, but because it offers more than either of them. I’m sure there will be teething problems, but at first glance, Lala seems to be the first inklings of that digital music revolution the industry needs.