Listening In Cloud Lala Land

Yes folks, it’s yet another online music distribution platform that aims to revolutionise the way we consume and purchase music in the digital era. Accompanied by much hype in the blogosphere, Lala has introduced its latest take on this troubled industry – music in the cloud…

It’s Still Up In The Air

First things first – Lala is currently only available in the US. So, nothing for us European types to get too excited about just yet. However, if it takes off in the states, it surely will be only a matter of time before it gains regulatory approval elsewhere. But what’s it all about?

Basically, Lala wants to put all your music in the cloud, so that you can listen to it anywhere you have an Internet connection. You can stream any track once for free, and if you want to buy tracks you have two options… you can buy a DRM-free mp3 download for 79 cents, or you can buy a Web track for 10 cents.

Leave Them Wanting More

The Web track means it gets added to your online library so that you can listen to it whenever you’re online, but you don’t get an mp3 download. If you later choose to buy the mp3 as a download, the original 10 cents gets taken away from the mp3 price. This low Web track price is designed to encourage listeners to buy more tracks, safe in the knowledge that they won’t lose out should they decide to buy the full download later.

This is a good marketing technique, using the upsell to generate demand – I talked a bit about the strategy of upselling music previously, with particular reference to the Yahoo! Music site (now aligned with Rhapsody).

Don’t Punish The Possible Past Pirates

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Lala’s new service is the fact that it allows users to unlock the mp3s they already have on their hard drive, regardless of whether they were obtained legitimately or not.

So, if you have thousands of mp3s, Lala will scan these and unlock them. This allows you to listen to them on Lala ‘in the cloud’ – that is, whenever you are online you will have unlimited listening access to these songs, exactly as if you had purchased them from Lala itself.

This feature obviously met with some initial resistance from the labels, but they eventually conceded that nobody is going to buy an mp3 they already have in their collection, so it’s no loss of potential revenue in practical terms. In fact, opening up the service in this way removes a massive barrier to entry, and should encourage widespread adoption of Lala.

The site is certainly riding high on a wave of positive publicity at the moment, so it has every chance of success… if it does take off, then the sky may well be the limit. However, we’ve seen many seemingly good ideas come crashing down before, so let’s just watch this space…


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