Singing Lala About Google Music

The speculation about the impending music-related announcement from Google seems to be boiling down to this: Full-Song Streams, Not a Full Music Service, as part of search results when the search is music-related. The link in the previous sentence is from GigaOm. Elsewhere, Crunchy Mike noted that this is a huge win for LaLa and iLike, Google, partners in the streaming.

I find this post-worthy, not because it’s a huge leap for Google-kind, or because the world needs another music service. It isn’t, and it doesn’t. Let me backpedal on the latter a little: maybe the world does need another music service, one that isn’t fragmented and restricted by nation.

The main reason I like (no pun intended) this is because it’s good for Lala. I want Lala to prosper, or at least stay in business, because I have a bunch of web songs, which I can stream whenever I like as long as Lala lives. So long live Lala, I service I like, and will continue to like while it survives to serve my web songs.

As you may have gathered, I have some concerns about Lala’s chances of survival. Those chances increase with the Google partnership. They would also increase were Lala to be acquired. I wonder if the commitment to serve web songs indefinitely is a barrier to purchase. I don’t think that it would be a significant barrier were Google the purchaser of Lala…

Lala Playlist Widget Revisited

Lala continues to be the music site I use the most. I haven’t used its playlist feature much, but I did create a playlist this week, and I did embed it in the previous post.

I couldn’t remember how to embed a Lala playlist in WordPress,com, did a Google search, and then found that I myself had posted an example months ago. I didn’t post step-by-step instructions on how to do so, and I didn’t get round to posting such instructions, even when a commenter asked for them. I’m glad to say that the commenter, Chris Martins, took the initiative and posted instructions once he worked it out.

Spotify Gets Spottier

“Why is Spotify not available in my country?” That’s what greets me when I visit the free, ad-supported, streaming music site. The answer is that “licensing restrictions” get in the way.

One of the selling point of the service, if free services can be said to have selling points, is the extensive catalogue. But that catalogue is changing, and not in a good way. It’s shrinking, at the insistence of record labels.

The changes are being made so that we implement all the proper restrictions that are required by our label deals… our agreements contain strict rules as to what tracks can and can’t be played in various countries… These restrictions are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music, our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good.

I got the news from TechCrunch, one of the sites that got me interested in Spotify in the first place. I’m now a little less interested.

By the way, I’m pretty happy with Lala. It has a pretty extensive catalog (making an appropriate switch to the US spelling now), free try-before-you-buy, and reasonable pricing once you decide you like.

Changing Music Services

It is indeed a time of changes. There was that election thing, and now I’m changing music services. I’m moving to Lala. A previous post explains what I like about the service. I’ve used it, and have been happy with it, during the subsequent couple of weeks.

That’s not to say that I’ve been unhappy with Rhapsody Unlimited. It offers music dial tone on very reasonable terms: a 14-Day free trial, then only $12.99 per month. I’ve had to call support a couple of times, and it was pretty good each time.

I’ve dabbled in other services, such as eMusic. But I prefer dialtone for most of my music.

Having said that, the metaphor that works best for LaLa’s model is perhaps one of… computing. The music is on a server farm, where I can sample it for free. To bring a track on to my own personal virtual music server, I pay a dime, and I can then listen to it as often as I want. If I want to cache that track, so that I can put it on my MP3 player, burn it to a CD for the car, etc., I buy the MP3, and pay about the same or a little less than I’d expect to pay elsewhere.

New England, Of Thee We Sing

Pumpkins in the SunThere are lots of songs about New England, even if you don’t include the ones about specific states, cities, etc. The thought came to me when I heard that the Decemberists have a song out called “O New England.” Time for a playlist of songs about New England, I decided.

If you thought, based on the photo, that the playlist includes the song “When Fall Comes to New England,” you’d be wrong. If you thought, based on the first paragraph, that it would comprise songs about New England, you’d be wrong again.

As Enough Cowbell noted, the the Decemberists’ song goes on about New York, which is not in New England. As for the other song, Kirsty MacColl wasn’t singing about New England either.

[clearspring_widget title=”Lala Playlist Widget” wid=”48f4e8b6f7fe2a43″ pid=”49068ba7b0e5f5f1″ width=”300″ height=”254″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

I was going to include the rather wonderful Jonathan Richman song “New England,” but only a 30-second clip is available at Lala, where I’d already started making the playlist. And I realized that there was a pattern in the song titles that cries out for three more songs: “E New England,” “I New England,” and “U New England.”

Someone please write the missing songs. Feel free to take liberties with the titles. “I, New England” sounds like a winner. I’m less sure about “(Nothing Compares 2) U New England.”

Lala Playlist Widget

In a couple of separate recent posts about web music services, I noted that I like Lala, and that the Grooveshark widget uses the Clearspring platform to work on the widget-wary WordPress.com.

Well, it turns out that Lala has a widget that uses Clearspring, including the still-not-documented clearspring_widget shortcode. Here’s a playlist with the first few tracks I added to my Lala collection.

[clearspring_widget title=”Lala Playlist Widget” wid=”48f4e8b6f7fe2a43″ pid=”48fe97b591fdb6b7″ width=”300″ height=”254″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

Third Time LaLa

Lala May Have Just Built The Next Revolution In Digital Music and “Call me a skeptic” are two sentences that go together rather well (like a horse and carriage, like words and music, etc.). Each is from the same post (by Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch). The first is the post title, and it had me saying the second. I was particularly skeptical, given that LaLa have previously tried a couple of other music business models.

But I tried Lala, am glad I did, and recommend that you do likewise. I’m sorry to have to add the sad rider “if you’re in the USA, or can convince web services that you are.”

Lala allows you to stream any track from its extensive catalog, at a cost of zero, and with no ads. The “catch” is that it allows you to do so once per track. That doesn’t seem like too big a catch to me, given that:

  • You can pay $0.10 (yes, that’s one dime) to stream the track as often as you want.
  • Your first 50 tracks in your collection are free. So, just as you can sample each track before you pay anything, you can sample the streaming and collecting service before you give Lala your credit card info.
  • If you decide you want to download an MP3 of the track, you get your dime back. Or rather, your dime goes toward the price of the MP3, which is less than a buck).
  • You can do this – listen for free, stream many times for one lifetime dime, download for the usual price – for as many tracks as you want.

So I like this model. Of course, not everyone does. For example, Mashable Stan doesn’t like it. His problem seems to be mainly with paying to be able to stream from one service. He prefers to buy music and have control over the music he’s bought. While I can see his point and its wider context, I don’t mind the restrictions.

I don’t expect a dime to buy me complete control over a track forever, any more than I expect twenty bucks to buy me a car. But I think that a dime is a reasonable price to be able to stream a track as long as Lala is in business (or until it moves on to yet another business model), just as I think that twenty bucks is a reasonable price to pay for convenient use of a Zipcar for an hour or two.

Lala strikes me a fresh and interesting Music 2.0 service. Perhaps I should call it Lala V3, given that it’s the third model they’ve tried. I don’t think it’s Music 3.0, or whatever the next generation will be called. But, again, I recommend you try it. You might start by listening to Carpetbaggers, a duet between Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello.