You have to give the new website LaLa.com credit for one thing: they know how to generate a ton of publicity for nothing special. When they first came out, we noted how they got a lot of big name publications to write about them, with not a single one noting that the company's idea wasn't even remotely new, and that other companies in the space had come and gone, because it just wasn't that appealing. A month later, they got a nice, but absolutely bizarre, writeup in the NY Times, suggesting that the startup (which has raised $9 million from venture capitalists) had a strategy that involved not making a profit. The company isn't doing anything new. There are tons of CD trading sites out there, and there were a bunch in the past that failed. The worst, part, though, was the positioning that this was some sort of "legal alternative" to file trading, ignoring that plenty of people who would use the system would probably first rip their CDs into MP3s before getting rid of the CDs. Since then, whenever we write about the RIAA, one person (always from the same IP address) comments on our site trying to position LaLa as some sort of anti-RIAA service, which makes no sense. Today, the story gets even more ridiculous. LaLa has officially launched, and is getting plenty of press coverage for announcing that the company is starting a "charity" for musicians, and will contribute 20% of revenue to this foundation. Beyond being a cheap publicity stunt, this is sending the wrong message. It suggests that musicians somehow need "charity" to survive. What musicians need is not charity, but to learn how to embrace one of the many different new business models that some musicians have figured out. For those musicians, they seem to be making out quite well -- without the need for some random "charity" from a site that seems unlikely to make enough money to make much of a difference anyway.
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