A website called LaLa is hoping to spark a new interest in music by taking a different approach to selling and managing your existing albums. After forking out $140 million in royalties, there is little doubt that they have re-launched with a bang! Before getting into the concerns I have (mainly being able to “pirate” music with the service), let’s take a look at what it offers.

Before being able to signup for LaLa, you’ll need to download a small app that will manage all of your music. Or you can just browse around their site looking for the CD’s with the red play button next to them, which symbolizes that you can listen to the full-length tracks online.

LaLa Music
Click to Enlarge

I gave in and downloaded LaLa to see what it was all about. As seen above, the interface is fairly simple and does support syncing with your iPod. That’s not all though, there is a lot of stuff that I have found while using LaLa all this morning:

  • You can listen to full-length tracks of select artists. A red play button next to the CD means that it has full-length "preview" tracks available for you to listen to.
  • You can listen to playlists that other people have made. There are currently about 500 playlists available, which are categorized by genre. Some of them contain hundreds of songs, and you can even search for playlists that contain a certain artist.
  • It took me a minute to notice that the music player was located in the top grey bar. It will show up after you start playing a song, and that’s where you can skip songs or pause the music.
  • Managing your music requires that you install a small application. This process took just 30-seconds for me, and after it finished a small LaLa icon sits in your System Tray. I thought that it was it’s own full-featured audio program, but it actually uses your browser to display your music library.
  • You can synchronize the music with your iPod, but it will wipe it clean and you won’t be able to use iTunes with it. Well, you could use iTunes but you would have to format the iPod again and resynchronize.
  • When your purchase a song it is put directly on your iPod, and does not need to store itself on your computer’s hard drive first.
  • You can synchronize your music with their server so that you can listen to all of your songs no matter where you are. In the unlikely event that they don’t have a song available on their site they will have it uploaded to their servers so that you can still listen to it. The big downfall is that it requires you to install the LaLa application even on computers where you just want to listen to your music.
  • You can listen to all of your friends’ music, and not just a small 30-second clip. You actually get to listen to the full song! Time to find a lot of friends that have a lot of music. :)

Now all of that is great, but before getting involved into a service like this the main concern that I have is whether it will be sticking around. Here are the thoughts I have regarding that:

  • Sure they paid out $140 million in royalties to compensate for the next two-years, but lawyers will still probably be all over them like gum on a sidewalk.
  • When LaLa scans your computer for music it marks on their website which music you already own. So how does LaLa scan for music? Does it actually "listen" to the song to determine what it is or is it just looking for the metadata embedded in the song? In any case it is probably easy to "forge" a purchase by creating fake metadata, or you can possibly save a low-quality copy from a YouTube video so that you can get the higher quality version from LaLa.

So what do you think? Is LaLa just going to be a music service that can’t stand its own ground, or is it something that will revolutionize the way we listen and manage our music?

LaLa Homepage

News Source: Wall Street Journal

Thanks for the tip CoryC!