Lala is gaining headlines across the tech blogosphere for a new service that allows users to play songs on the web. The glowing reviews mention support from major record labels and an extensive library. Some are calling it “The Next Revolution In Digital Music,” “Spectacular” and “Switched On.”
Here’s what Lala is offering. Users sign up, and if they choose to they can sync what they own locally with what’s on Lala (no uploads, but owned single recognition). Users can then play any song on Lala for free…once. If they already own the song (as identified through the sync process) they can play that song on Lala on an unlimited basis, if they don’t own that song, they have to pay 10c for the rights to play it on an unlimited basis, per song.
Lala comes bundled with the ability to purchase songs at competitive rates vs Amazon or iTunes, and songs purchased are DRM free. 10c play payments are credited against the future purchase of the song.
Pay to play: fail
What’s revolutionary about a site that charges people to play music on demand that is freely available on other sites (some legal, some dubious) at no cost at all. It’s not only bizarre, it’s beyond stupid. It is spectacular…spectacularly dumb. This is the third incarnation of Lala, with the site having started as a CD swapping service. One headline said it may be third time lucky for Lala, more like three strikes and you’re out.
People are not going to flock to, and use a service that charges them 10 cents every time they want to play a single more than once. Why would they? Last.fm and Grooveshark are two perfectly legal players in this space where they don’t have to pay (Last.fm can be limited at times), and there are a range of other sites, such as Seeqpod that offer free on demand music as well. It’s insane to enter a market trying to get users to make micropayments when your competitors don’t.
Bonus points: it’s georetarded
Now here’s a surprise (not), Lala can’t be used outside of the United States, so the chirpy voice, with a couple of translations told me when I tried to play a song on the site. So you’ve got a model which charges users for playing songs when your competitors don’t, and it’s only available in the United States, so you immediately reduce the odds that you might be able to find enough people gullible enough to cough up to use the service. lalalalalalala.
Lala sucks, and I can’t believe that so many in the tech blogosphere are either taking drugs, or drinking so much kool aid that they think this service is a good thing. I tried extremely hard to find something I liked about this site, really, really, hard, and I just can’t. Dumbest business model ever combined with the myopia of georetardation. Three strikes equals an EPIC FAIL.