Third Time LaLa

Lala May Have Just Built The Next Revolution In Digital Music and “Call me a skeptic” are two sentences that go together rather well (like a horse and carriage, like words and music, etc.). Each is from the same post (by Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch). The first is the post title, and it had me saying the second. I was particularly skeptical, given that LaLa have previously tried a couple of other music business models.

But I tried Lala, am glad I did, and recommend that you do likewise. I’m sorry to have to add the sad rider “if you’re in the USA, or can convince web services that you are.”

Lala allows you to stream any track from its extensive catalog, at a cost of zero, and with no ads. The “catch” is that it allows you to do so once per track. That doesn’t seem like too big a catch to me, given that:

  • You can pay $0.10 (yes, that’s one dime) to stream the track as often as you want.
  • Your first 50 tracks in your collection are free. So, just as you can sample each track before you pay anything, you can sample the streaming and collecting service before you give Lala your credit card info.
  • If you decide you want to download an MP3 of the track, you get your dime back. Or rather, your dime goes toward the price of the MP3, which is less than a buck).
  • You can do this – listen for free, stream many times for one lifetime dime, download for the usual price – for as many tracks as you want.

So I like this model. Of course, not everyone does. For example, Mashable Stan doesn’t like it. His problem seems to be mainly with paying to be able to stream from one service. He prefers to buy music and have control over the music he’s bought. While I can see his point and its wider context, I don’t mind the restrictions.

I don’t expect a dime to buy me complete control over a track forever, any more than I expect twenty bucks to buy me a car. But I think that a dime is a reasonable price to be able to stream a track as long as Lala is in business (or until it moves on to yet another business model), just as I think that twenty bucks is a reasonable price to pay for convenient use of a Zipcar for an hour or two.

Lala strikes me a fresh and interesting Music 2.0 service. Perhaps I should call it Lala V3, given that it’s the third model they’ve tried. I don’t think it’s Music 3.0, or whatever the next generation will be called. But, again, I recommend you try it. You might start by listening to Carpetbaggers, a duet between Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello.

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