Music service Lala.com started out in 2006 as a CD-swapping service, and later expanded into online music storage and streaming. Now, the company is taking that storage and streaming idea one steop further, eliminating the “outdated” need for users to carry around their MP3 and music collections with them on portable players, and instead offering ad-free, streaming access to tunes they own in Lala.com’s library—ad-free.
“We live our lives in a browser, whether it’s emailing, watching television shows or using Facebook” said Lal CEO Geoff Ralston, in a statement. “My music belongs online in the same way. Will there be anything without a browser in 5 years?”
Lala.com’s new approach is to provide users access to their existing music library (such as iTunes) by matching songs in the personal collection with songs in Lala’s catalog—and users can then stream those songs from anywhere they can hop on the Internet with a reasonably modern Web browser. And Lala’s catalog is extensive, offering over six million tracks, including music from all four major labels (EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music, and Warner Music). Lala’s player offers look-ahead search, drag-and-drop playlist creation, and users can sample the entire music catalog as songs or albums: every song is available in its entirely—but one time only.
Lala is also offering a new way to buy music: as a “Web song,” which cost just 10 cents each. The idea behind a Web song is that a user can buy the song and add it to their online collection, and listen to it from anywhere via Lala using a browser. What they can’t do is add it to a PC-based music collection, transfer it to a portable device, or burn it to a CD. For that, users will still need to buy a full track—although the 10 cent Web song price counts against that purchase, so buying a DRM-free version of the track costs 79 cents more.
The Lala service is ad-free, which means it’s basing its revenue on the ability to sell music tracks to listeners. And record labels seem to think Lala has a shot at upselling listeners on additional tracks: according to reports, Lala sold over 50 Web songs and 50 MP3s for every 1,000 songs it streamed during testing.
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