Friday, May 28, 2010

What does the death of Lala mean?

On the surface, Apple buying the online Lala music service didn't turn many heads a few months ago. I was a big fan of Lala, which allowed users upload their complete music collection and to have a copy of that collection on Lala's slightly ahead of it's time cloud computing technology. Lala also had a sizable collection of music for sale for around $7.50 for DRM free mp3 albums. Where they differed from every other service was allowing you to purchase web songs of your favorite artists for .10 each. The web songs then could be played on your Lala account at any time. They couldn't be copied or transported to personal music players. Lala also encouraged fans of music to interact with one another and suggest artists to one another. So Lala had almost all of the components that I could wish for in a music service.

Then Apple purchased Lala and some changes happened. I could no longer upload all of my creative commons and indie artists to my Lala account, it would just upload songs from like named artists or song names and not the artists that I had tried to upload. Lala would only upload artists that were available for sale on Lala. This seems innocuous but I think there is something bigger going on here. Apple bought Lala to use the cloud computing technology and took out a direct competitor at the same time. But what will Apple do with this cloud computing technology? My guess is they will incorporate it into i-tunes. At first glance this is a good thing, cloud technology means you won't have the bigger mp3 files on your computer. It's going to change again our idea of ownership of something just as the original arrival of mp3's did. It took a little time to get used to mp3's replacing physical products like cd's. Now with cloud computing there will be an exhaustive collection of music that you will get a ghost copy that will access the cloud when you go to play the music on i-tunes.

Where this differs is that I think Apple is going to make it so that you won't be able to upload music that isn't on i-tunes for sale on to your i-tunes account. This would cause about 400 of my albums not to be able to be played by i-tunes. Right now you can upload music onto i-tunes that isn't available there. I have been thinking for a couple of years that Apple must be working overtime to make all artists sign up for i-tunes in order for their fans to play their music on their i-tunes accounts. Many artists give their music away free under the Creative Commons agreement. So will these artists then have to charge something for their music to be able to pay for their music to be listed on i-tunes and for their music to play on i-tunes. Apple was more than happy for us to make i-tunes the standard before they made us pay for it.

I hope I am wrong, but it appears the writing is certainly on the wall in this case. So then the market reaction to this would be another company like Lala starting a similar music site online. Maybe there's a site already readying itself for the net music business that will be a game changer. We will see.


Post a Comment