You know what's all the rage right now? Music streaming. You know who the newest player in that space is? HP. After buying up Palm in a $1.2 billion deal, HP has picked up music streaming service Melodeo for around $30 million. Quite the deal by comparison. Get ready for the audio streaming wars.
Both Google and Apple are working on streaming services of some sort. Google actually showed off this feature at Google I/O. But Apple has been silent since it acquired Lala a few months back. We can only assume they plan to do something with it. Melodeo's main product is called nuTsie; an app that allows Android, Blackberry, and WinMo phones to stream iTunes playlists.
We would be shocked if this service didn't end up in WebOS in the near future. We'll keep an eye on this one. Before you know it, a streaming music solution will be as important as an app ecosystem.
Music streaming service Lala faced some pretty stiff competition prior to its acquisition by Apple, but all things considered, it was a fairly innovative service compared to most cut and dry music stores. Lala gave users the ability to stream an entire song for free once, and then gave you permanent online access for an additional 10 cents. Users could later elect to purchase the track DRM free for 79 cents if they wanted to load it on an MP3 player, but the real draw was the low cost and free samples which made music discovery far less expensive when compared to iTunes.
Many were hoping Apple's acquisition of Lala would be a prelude to a subscription service similar to the Zune Pass, but instead they have simply decided to shut it down, with the last day of business being May 31st. It is unknown at this point if Apple is abandoning the whole streaming music concept altogether, or if the shut down is part of a larger plan to roll its features into iTunes in the coming months. It would make sense that an announcement along these lines would probably happen in June along with new hardware, but we'll have to wait and see.
People who bought songs through Lala won't be impacted since they are DRM free, but those who purchased streaming rights to tracks will either need to take an iTunes credit or jump through a few hoops to get a full refund. It's sad to see Lala go, but at least Apple is being fair to former customers.
Reports today indicate that Apple is in talks to buy music streaming service Lala. Apple could be largely concerned with acquiring the technology or the people behind Lala. The streaming service has made a name for itself, but lacks a large customer base. Even with its recent inclusion in the Google music search tool, there are no indications that Lala is profitable. Apple’s massive music-buying customer base, could be just what Lala needs.
Lala currently offers users an opportunity to stream a song one time at no charge. Permanent access to that song will run 10 cents. Purchased tracks are not downloaded, but are rather stored on Lala’s servers. For 79 cents the tracks may be downloaded to the user’s computer.
Warner Music Group lost quite a chunk of change investing in Lala, so it will be surprising if Apple offers a large sum of money. However, if Lala could be integrated into the iTunes ecosystem as a subscription streaming service it could give Apple a huge source of revenue.
Update: Techcrunch is reporting the deal is done. New York Times reporter Brad Stone has tweeted that Apple has gone through with the deal and the NYT is updating their story. Stay tuned for more.
It’s unfortunate to see Microsoft so clearly working backwards in a progressive music market. In a world run by DRM-free services like Amazon, Lala and Apple, its confusing to see a giant like Microsoft moving towards DRM when it comes to loading music on mobile phones.
According to Hugh Griffiths, Microsoft’s Head of Mobile at Microsoft UK, “It's a first step. We're doing this in conjunction with a third-party provider. We'll be looking to enhance the service if we get some interest from consumers. They certainly tell us that they like listening to music while they are out and about, on their mobile phones.”
On top of that, there’s currently no announced way for customers to move music between their mobile phone and their computer. And, to further dig the grave of the service, the tracks will be selling for nearly $2 (American) per song, compared to Apple and Amazon’s 79 – 99 cents.
Lets just hope that either Microsoft takes their stake out of the DRM-fueled music game before some unsuspecting people get swindled into buying crippled music, or they drastically change their tactics.
I feel like my eyes have just been opened for the very first time. This iTunes store junkie has finally seen the true light when it comes to buying music online, and it comes in the form of Lala.com.
When buying a song on iTunes I find myself searching around the very easy to navigate store, buying music at a reasonably priced 99 cents per song, and downloading a file with attached DRM. I’d always accepted it, it didn’t seem unaccommodating. Now that I’ve had a chance to check out the eminence that is Lala.com, I can’t ever see myself going back to iTunes again. Not to say that iTunes is bad, but Lala is just that good.
Why is Lala good? First of all, they sell MP3’s for 89 cents without any attached DRM (seriously!), or you can buy a streaming only version for just 10 cents (which will go towards the purchase of the full version). Albums themselves come at the price of $7.49, less than both iTunes and the legendary price-slashing Amazon.
Lala also allows you to listen to a song completely before you decide to buy it – and there’s plenty to listen to. Lala offers tunes from the four major record labels and 170,000 independents. New members are also allowed to pick up their first 50 streaming songs for free, no strings attached – no credit card, no nothing.
Say you’re like me, you’re packing a hefty amount of songs on your computer. You’ve purchased some from iTunes with that nasty DRM attached and MP3s that you’ve ripped straight of CDs. What do you do? You use Lala’s safe to use uploader! It scans the music on your computer’s hard drive, identifies the songs you’ve got and tosses them onto your library so that you can listen to them anywhere. Users accustomed with MP3.com’s MyMP3 service will already be familiar with this concept.
I could quite literally go on and on about how great this service really is, but if you use it for even just a little bit you’ll realize its potential on your own. Be sure to drive your browser over to Lala’s web site, and sign up straight away (and keep your eyes glued to your iPhone’s app store, they’ve got an app on the horizon). And remember, cash in those 50 free songs!
Today the New York Post revealed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be looking to follow MySpace’s lead by offering a digital music store. Not through licensing their own content, mind you, but working through a third party that already has the nasty licensing business worked out.
MySpace’s music service currently works as a proprietary service built from the ground up using source licensing, with all their content hosted directly from MySpace. Whereas Facebook is reportedly looking to work with Rhapsody, iLike, Lala and IMEEM as content providers and licensers.
Supposedly, listening to the music itself will be free, and sold through Amazon. Listening to songs on Facebook would prompt on-screen advertising.
“Facebook is a serious challenger to MySpace,” said Phil Leigh, of Inside Digital Media, “and they would certainly want to do anything that record labels would allow them to do with advertising-supported music.”
So what say you, social networking site user? Would you use a Facebook powered music store? Let us know in the comments.