Miles runs the voodoo down, one free track at a time. (via)
Is it too good to be true? 6 million songs for free without the guilt of illegal downloading? Your entire music collection stored in the cloud, accessible from any browser? And a streamlined user experience to boot?
Enter LaLa.com. Out of the 1000’s of digital music services to choose from, Lala shines for four reasons: its content, delivery model, interface and user experience.
First, Lala says good riddance to mere 30-second sound bites and gives users access to free, full-length tracks. These are free samples users can really sink their teeth into: 6 million tracks, free for the first play and rock-bottom 10 cent pricing to add it to your online library. Listen to the entire discography of Miles Davis (140 albums), loads of tracks by Fela Kuti (over 30 albums), or the sounds of Rio de Janeiro with Jobim (32 albums). Lala knows that people are accustomed to getting their music content for free. Listening to just 30 second clips on iTunes of Stevie Wonder’s entire discography would probably perturb rather than encourage a purchase. Lala gets it. Give them free content and then users will be more prone to want to call Lala home.
Second, Lala gets major props for no ads. This alone creates a better listening experience when you aren’t interrupted by promotions to pimp out your profile and to stock up on Captain Morgan rum.
Third, we’ll give them kudos for a clean and intuitive user interface. It’s easy to navigate and there are elegant overlays that make it a clutter-free experience.
Lastly, the most impressive feature is the Lala content cloud. Sync your existing personal music content with a web-based catalog of Lala music. Whatever you have in iTunes will now live in Lala thanks to their Music Mover. Accessible from any browser you’ll experience file-less freedom. If you don’t have web access then there will be some obvious barriers to adoption, especially if you only listen to music when you are driving or on the go. Of course you can still buy mp3s from Lala and move them to your portable device with ease.
Lala would also rise above the rest if it figured out away to present comprehensive album metadata. If I’m at all curious what musician is playing on a particular track, when and where it was recorded, and who wrote the song, Lala seems to come up short.
A potential digital music game-changer is going to be a Lala iPhone app. Lala founder Bill Nguyen in an interview with CBS tells us their strategy has always had a major focus on mobile. This should be good news for iPhowners. Will we see a Lala music app next to your Itunes icon on our iPhone any time soon? Seems like a conflict of interest. Ask Bill in person this week at SXSW.
A more pressing question is when will Facebook offer on demand integrated streaming music? It’s the missing link for Facebook. We’ve seen recent Lala content partnerships with sites like Pitchfork but these integrations only go so far. Imagine your entire music collection built into your Facebook profile living in the cloud. You could share and discover music within your networks without having to add 3rd party applications that play music. Could Lala and Facebook be the perfect marriage? Perhaps, but whether Lala would have to modify their model to play in the social media space remains to be seen. With so many digital music options available Lala’s longevity may depend upon exactly these types of creative content integrations. Hopefully we’ll see more of them.
In the meantime, enjoy your 6 million songs and keep your head in the content cloud.