by Mike Masnick

LaLa Sings A New (Expensive) Song

from the let's-see-how-this-works dept

Lala.com, a company that's received a ton of hype for being not much more than a Peerflix clone with a nicer design, has revamped its business model in a big way, and is getting a ton of press from all over. There are so many news stories to pick from, so we'll just go with the AP report on Lala's new music streaming and download service. It's certainly a shift from the CD trading service the company originally had. Instead, they want to offer up the ability to stream songs for free -- while paying record labels for each stream. The company claims that it will cost them $140 million to pay for these streams -- which seems a bit pricey for a startup without much proven ability to make money. Lala hopes that some percentage of people listening to the free streams will then buy downloadable tracks, which they'll be selling for $0.99 with no direct DRM -- but which can only be transferred directly to an iPod and nowhere else. That certainly sounds like just a different type of DRM, rather than no-DRM. Right now, only Warner Music has agreed to take part. This is the second time Warner Music has apparently agreed to take part in a "DRM-free" music download service, and the last time didn't turn out very well, as Warner turned around and claimed that Michael Robertson's Anywhere CD didn't really have permission to offer DRM-free downloads.

Speaking of Robertson, there's apparently a second part of Lala's new service that isn't covered in most of the press reports. Gizmodo is claiming that the service will also scour your hard drive for music and let you access all those songs from any computer. If this sounds familiar, it's because that's pretty much the model that Michael Robertson had for his MP3.com service, that was basically sued out of existence seven years ago for copyright infringement. By the way, it was Universal Music, at the time headed by Edgar Bronfman Jr., who pushed for the lawsuit against MP3.com (and then eventually bought out the company, only to kill it). It's probably worth noting that Warner Music, the only label involved in this new deal, is now headed by (yup) Edgar Bronfman Jr.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2007 @ 12:31pm

    Where is the benefit of DRM free music if it can only be transferred to an ipod?

    And what then is the point of only allowing the music to be transferred to an ipod when anybody can easily transfer the music from their ipod back to their computer when the ipod is in hard disk mode?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Common man, 5 Jun 2007 @ 12:36pm

    To the RIAA

    To all RIAA employees and/or Execs.

    Why don't you understand? Have we th epeople not made it simple and plain enough? We don't want DRM, we don't want restrictions, of any kind. I don't mind paying for music, especailly $1 per song. In fact, I think that is a great deal, and I'm guessing I'm not alone. But $1 for music that I can't do what I want with, when I want, and as many times as I want, is $1 too much.

    We the people will fight, and continue to fight untill 1 of 2 things happens. Either you back down, drop all DRM pretenses, or the labels you represent wise up and go at it on their own, DRM free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jason Butterfield, 5 Jun 2007 @ 1:10pm

    Lala's sings a new (expensive) song.

    It's nice to see that there is life after Teletubbies.
    Congratulations Lala! :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    TriZz, 5 Jun 2007 @ 1:10pm


    "Where is the benefit of DRM free music if it can only be transferred to an ipod?"

    It's an oxymoron. It isn't DRM free if it can't be transferred anywhere other than an iPod.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2007 @ 1:29pm

    Just another example of major labels lies and hypocrisy. I can assure you this site won't be getting any of my business. It merely strengthens my resolve not to buy anything from the major or RIAA supporting labels. I now check all my purchases via RIAAradar.com before I make them and reject anything it says isn't RIAA safe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    BlackCow, 5 Jun 2007 @ 1:42pm

    iPod Hater

    I hate iPods with passion, they won't get my business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:22pm

    I love lala mostly since they sponsor www.Woxy.com

    According to this article http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118100454736824471-hORJO00TnloeDLz0JIfi1OgUNoM_20070704.html? mod=tff_main_tff_top

    Here is looks like you can get tracks for various players. Also the tracks will not be sold individually but as a full cd

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Adam, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:22pm

    I think the MP3.com reference isn't appropriate

    MP3 was sued because they copied a ton of CDs without permission and unlimitedly streamed that music to folks who (theoretically) proved that they already legally posessed that music.

    In contrast, as I understand it, lala is serving as a true locker service, where the user has to affirmatively upload each and every track; it's a "storage" service, not a music-authentication service of sorts. They are (most likely legally by all interps) as a carrier, and by not physically copying all the CDs themselves, they're pretty reasonably shielded from liability IMHO.

    = Adam, who got a law degree a decade ago but only remembers pieces of the stuff :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    andy, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:30pm

    not so!

    the last bit on mp3.com being sued out of existence and the reasons why sound a bit shaky... especially since robertson is doing the exact same thing AGAIN, (so far) unfettered by litigation.

    mp3tunes.com and oboe music are his newest "music locker" experiment where you can sync your music up to the locker, and listen to your music from any computer with net access.

    i haven't heard any lawsuits looming against this service.

    but yes... lala DOES sound the same as what mp3tunes and oboemusic are already doing.

    no, i am not a pr shill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    anonymous coward, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:33pm

    a.) its designed around ipods which are popular but far from ubiquitous.

    b.) it doesn't work. i had to uninstall when it crashed my machine repeatedly.

    i love their CD swapping service and use it extensively. it will be sad when this venture takes them completely out of business.

    another example of venture capital forcing a business to grow until it self-destructs. lala would have been a great little unpretentious, self-funded business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    GoblinJuice, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:48pm

    I skimmed the article. Didn't see how the file was only "transferable" to an iPod. Anywho.

    I refuse to do business with any company that attempts to lock me in, in that way. ;-)

    If I'm going to be tied, I wanna at least have some fun!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Marc Cohen, 5 Jun 2007 @ 7:48pm

    lala is the right name for this company

    I have read a number of stories about what lala is doing and they all seem to be a little different. This is a "high concept" company with low prospects of success. Check out the Ad-Supported Music Central blog: http://ad-supported-music.blogspot.com/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    John, 6 Jun 2007 @ 9:22am


    I was an intern at MP3.com at the time...I spent hours "beaming" up my music to my online locker only to have it swept away into the garbage, thanks RIAA. Now I'm getting revenge: http://www.gigatribe.com !!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Cap 'n' Sack, 6 Jun 2007 @ 1:40pm

    According to other articles about the new LaLa on the web, this is exactly like MP3.com "beaming" all over again. It's not just a locker service. In most cases it just uploads the file names and assumes you own the music. Then it streams their pre-ripped copies. I don't know how they think they'll get away with it this time around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2007 @ 8:10pm

    Trouble for LaLa

    After I read this article, and after seeing that the focus of the site had changed, I decided to cancel my account. The only way to do this is through a "support request," which they conveniently ignore. So they have my credit card information on file, and they won't let me leave.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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