Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lala - The Dark Horse of Online Music Streaming

This post is about music so why not listen to some while you read? And why not make it John Legend - Awesome. I am constantly exploring online music services. I dig music. I dig music that is free. I dig sites that deliver free music in a unique way. I have previously mentioned sites like Pandora, PureVolume, SadSteve, B-Sides, iTunes, Soundunwound, Soundflavor, and others, which are all good to listen to music and learn about new music. Recently I found the darkhorse of online music services...

Lala is an online music service that allows listeners to choose songs they like, create a queue (a playlist of sorts) and listen to music that they choose and love. In that regard, Lala is not a very unique service. In fact, if that is all that the site does, I wouldn't be posting about it. A better way to describe Lala is as an online music repository. What does this mean? Two things really:
  1. Lala is a place where you can purchase and accumalate music to which you have a right to listen to as if it were your own. Purchase? Yeah, purchase. Songs cost $.10 and you get the right to listen to the purchased track as much as you want, whenever you want. You do not get to download it to your own computer unless you pay the usual, iTunes standard $.99. So what is so special about that? Basically, you buy music online AND you get to store the music online AND download it to your computer. A lot of people buy music from the iTunes store. I would argue that this method allows you to back up your entire music collection for FREE. Further, this method allows you to access your files online, anytime. I think thats pretty fantastic.
  2. Lala is a place where you can store music that you ALREADY OWN and accumulate music that you purchase. Thats right! You can upload your entire music library to Lala for free - have access to it from anywhere in the world with internet access. That is a unique concept that makes Lala worth trying out.
How does it work: When you set up an online account, the site gives you 50 free music credits. These are credits that you can use to go out and "purchase" any song. I use the term purchase loosely in this context because there are two types of purchase of a song on Lala: a strictly online purchase and an online purchase that allows you to download and keep the file. So you can accumulate music in two ways, strictly online (less expensive) or online and on your computer (normal cost of music).

Music Mover: Lala has its own software that searches your computer for music and uploads it to Lala. Basically, the site matches your music with online music and then automatically gives you the right to those songs which you already own. Honestly, this is what makes Lala one of the most amazing onlines services on the web becuase of the possibilities. Think about it:
  • Do you have a large music collection on your home computer but don't want it to take up all the space on your laptop? Or is your laptop a work laptop? Or do you just want to access your music from a public computer or from someone else's computer. Lala makes it so you can access your music library without storing it on your computer at all! Better yet - you can do this from anywhere with access to the internet.
  • Own an iPhone or iPod touch but hate that you can't fit your whole collection on it? Get the Lala app and connect to your music on the interweb. This App is forthcoming but check out the amazingness of the concept.

Music Mover in action - you know, just doin' its thang

My music collection post Music Mover upload - after it did its thang.

More About Music Mover: Music Mover is a small program you download. To use it, you simply specify the source location of your music library and begin the upload process to Lala. Music Mover will go through a rather time consuming process of uploading all your music (unless it is unrecognizable) to Lala. Depending on the size of your music library, this process can take a long time or a short time. I have around 6000 songs and it is taking hours and hours and hours. Right now I have access to around half of my music and it took the program about 3 hours to accomplish. In my opinion, that is a small price to pay for having access to your music anywhere, anytime!

More About the Site: The site's interface is clean, straightforward, and very easy to use. Searching for music is very simple. Once your library is uploaded, your view of your music is similar to what iTunes used to look like when it wasn't so album art-based. The music player streams music with ease and maintains a position on the top of your screen while you browse their site.

That is the Lala homepage for my account

This is what the Queue looks like - You can also make playlists - even on iTunes then upload them.

Lala has a very simple "share" app allowing you to share any song on your own site, facebook, or whatever. Here is another great tune.

Things I think will improve the site: the site will benefit from a better interface for music collections. Right now, its a little old looking and difficult to use when there are a lot of songs in the library. Also, I think a pop-out music player would be awesome. Right now, you can't navigate away from that page (which isn't so bad) and that makes it difficult to see what you are listening to or change a track while looking at a different site.

A BONUS: If you want to check out Lala without going through the uploading process, just leave a comment on this post and I will hook you up with access to my collection. Obviously, I will only give access to people I know and trust...


Natalie said...

This is pretty sweet! How did you come across it? I am glad I can listen to all of your music if I want.

Natalie said...

As soon as people figure out how genius it is it will be huge! I guess it is kind of pointless to buy lots of storage on your iphone for music anymore.