LaLa.com Finished: Apple Takes Over?

Originally Published by SFCritic

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, and a lot of that time utilizing the internet to discover new music. I usually start at Pandora.com, discover a song I like and then listen to the whole album– for free- at Lala.com. Lala had become the bridge between the obscurity of hearing a single track by an unknown artist and actually walking into a record store and purchasing a full $15 CD, and knowing its worth it. I was completely in shock when I got an email from Lala.com saying that the service would be shut down on May 31st.

Lala had gained popularity in its short run for two main reasons: it sported a user-friendly interface that allowed listeners to preview music- old and new- in the full album format and either purchase online-only tracks for ten cents or downloadable tracks for under $1. Additionally, it was a cloud storage system for the user’s entire music collection.

The cloud storage capabilities may have been what did Lala in. The MusicMover application read the user’s music library and either mimicked its tracks on the storage with tracks it already had, or uploaded the couple it didn’t from the user’s library. The relationship with the user was mutually beneficial. The user had their entire digital music library not only backed up, but available to them almost anywhere, and Lala gained more tracks to add to its extensive listening library.


Since its purchase by Apple in May 2009 for an undisclosed price, rumors have been swirling in the blogosphere about its demise. Some believe that Apple purchased Lala just so that Google or Microsoft couldn’t. Others have hypothesized that the Lala purchase is all part of an elaborate, uber-capitalist money scheme on Apple’s part, and that Apple has completely lost touch with all the techies that have catapulted it to the top of the tech race.

The most likely outcome, however, is that Lala will be incorporated into the next generation of iTunes. Former MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson has been working with Apple to develop a new cloud-based media strategy at iTunes.com The technology garnered from Lala may be just what Apple needs to create a profitable online music market. The message up at Lala.com now supports this claim, any financial credits or music purchased at Lala.com will be transferred to iTunes.

As sad as it is to lose Lala, Apple may be on to something. As recorded music has evolved from the vinyl record, to tape to compact disc, to MP3, it has been nearly impossible for us audiophiles to keep track of all the music we have. A cloud storage iTunes could create standardization and convenience in a form that is nearly impossible to break, lose, or corrupt.

Until May 31st I will continue to explore music on Lala, and just crossing my fingers that Apple gets it right.

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