Digital Music Services

I am not a big digital music fan – I have my “old” CD collection, and have a very old MP3 player (yes – it is a pre-iPod – contrary to popular belief, this technology did exist before the iPod). But my teenagers are really excited about their digital-music devices, and so I am always on the lookout for better ways for them to find songs than via peer-to-peer file sharing applications. Apart from being illegal, they simply expose our computer, and our children, to way too much bad stuff. Before I blocked these P2P apps from all of our computers, I once found an extremely graphic video on our machine, which one of my children had inadvertently downloaded thinking it was something else (which, of course, was the intent of whomever put this on the peer-to-peer network). With these P2P applications no longer an option in our home, and since they can’t use iTunes (because they don’t have iPods either), we are always looking for safe, legal ways to get the music they want.

So, I was intrigued by this new service called lala.com. As it turns out, LaLa.com is taking a very different tactic than the rest of the iTunes competitors out there, in two major ways:

1. Lala.com will allow you to listen to any music on your computer for free. You can create playlists, and use the service as much as you want without every purchasing any music or paying any subscription fees. It is only when you want to move a song to your portable player that you have to pay for it. So, for those who hang out at their desk all day, and just want to listen to music while they work, this is a completely free service where you can access as much music as you like.

2. Lala.com will only sell the entire CD – you cannot purchase an individual song. When you are ready to download something to your player, and want to make a purchase, they are forcing you back into the old-school packaged CD mentality, where you must purchase the entire set of songs that make up the CD rather than the one song you want.

While this is not much of an option for my children (they don’t listen to music while at the computer, and they don’t like purchasing entire CDs), it will be interesting to see how this service is accepted by both the music industry and the consumers. I would expect that consumers would like the all-you-can-consume music streaming, but would not be happy about having to purchase an entire CD of songs, whereas the music industry would be just the opposite.

It will also be interesting to see how Apple responds to this, since you can play these songs on your iPod, and can also download songs directly to your iPod from lala.com without going through iTunes to get them there. Not exactly the Apple way.

This seems like a risky approach to me, and one that doesn’t really meet anyones needs completely. But then again, as I mentioned above, I am not a big digital-music fan, so what do I know…

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