Remember lala.com? I wrote about them in this space a couple months back. They run a CD-trading service that’s far superior to buying used CDs at brick-and-mortar retail outlets. Now they’ve come out with a very cool—and very legal—music-sharing service that’s designed to help music lovers discover new music.
Sign up for this free service and you can upload any music you own to their servers and stream it from there to any PC connected to the Internet. You can also download the music to your iPod using any PC connected to the Internet—without the need to go through iTunes.
What could be cooler than that? How about being able to share the music you own with every other Lala member—and being able to listen to any of the music that they own without running afoul of any copyright laws. That’s Lala’s newest feature, and I really dig it.
The ability to discover new music without having to first buy an entire CD full of it was a big part of the original Napster’s appeal, but Napster’s creators neglected to include any means of compensating the musicians who created the music in the first place. Lala pays royalties for the music streamed from its site, and it compensates musicians directly for CDs that are traded on its site—something no used-record store that I know of does.
Music sharing on Lala is not as flexible as it was with the old Napster, but the tradeoffs for legality and ensuring that artists are compensated are well worth it. You can’t download music unless you own it, for example; and all you need do to prove you own it is to upload it. Lala takes you at your word that you’ve purchased the music; a refreshing attitude compared to the record labels, who assume we’re all a bunch of thieves. You’ll also need to create an account on Lala and download the Lala player (both of which are free).
Lala listeners create playlists based on the music they own, which any other Lala member can stream. Once you’ve uploaded your own music library, you can do the same. You can add music from anyone else’s playlist to yours, but you can’t listen to those tracks on demand unless you already own them. The only other restriction is that you can’t skip more than five tracks per hour.