’s 10 Cent Songs is an Omen, Not a Blessing

By October 22, 2008 6 comments

A Lala cheerleader may have told you about purchasing songs at 10 cents each. Now let’s not cannonball into the pool just yet. While can boast over 170,000 independent distributors and labels, the release represents an ominous sign in the digital industry—buying music saved onto hard drives at remote data centers. For one, YouTube’s playlist service already offers Lala’s primary function for free, but this soon may not be the case. There has been an increase in ostensible copyright violations on YouTube’s music videos. Secondly, the rumors of the ten-cent song amount to an obvious foot in the door technique that is really almost the same price as iTunes.

Lala allows users to listen to each song and album one time for free. After then, they can save them to a “locker.” The locker’s first fifty tracks are free, but then users have to start paying. Further, the locker serves as another intermediary to prevent music listeners from backing their purchases up onto their hard drives. If users want to purchase the actual file, the price is 89–99 cents.

One thing that is for sure, what constitutes owning music is getting redefined. The rubble that’s left of Russian-based (RIP 2006), which offered mp3 files for significantly cheaper, might be the first of many victims to government regulation. It appears that Lala will be one of a series of Web sites assisting in the quarantine of music files into the hands of isolated data centers. By isolating the data centers, it is easier for the government to regulate who can sell what is on them. Not to mention on October 13, President Bush signed the PRO-IP act into law, in which record corporations and the government collaborated to increase seizures and punishments for the unauthorized sale of music.

A fundamental right in owning music is the ability to have it at your disposal, not just on an Internet account. Music is not only listened to. It is used in other artistic mediums such as video editing. Isolating the tracks onto data servers and not onto consumer personal hard drives for their disposal will limit experimentation with tracks, and as a consequence the art will suffer. The government should not discriminate against poor artists who have to be frugal with their mp3 purchases. With Apples recent threat to shut down iTunes, and Lala’s new locker idea, it appears we are heading down an ominous road.

Page top


I find it extraordinary that folks talk about the extraordinary "limitations" of placing content and applications on the Internet. This requires a vast misunderstanding of the freedom that moving to the cloud brings. Are you unhappy that Google's search engine requires you to go to a web page and that the indices live in a data center? Are the hundreds of millions of people who use web-based email now constrained by the "isolation" of their mail on Yahoo! or Google's web servers? Are we really better off organizing our photos on (hopefully) raided disks in our own personal data center in our homes?

Apologies, but in our view you've got this exactly backwards. Our intention is to set users free by placing their music in the cloud and giving them full access to new music simultaneously. If we fail in that mission it is not because of a nefarious plot, but because we are not done yet. Rather we are only just beginning. We are completely customer focused and are building a service that responds to their needs as they tell them to us and as we understand them. Go to Lala, use it yourself and read the feedback on the site. Then decide how far we are from our goal.

Remember, omens can be good or bad. This is a good one.

Geoff Ralston CEO / Lala

Submitted by Geoff Ralston (not verified) - on October 23, 2008 at 08:38 am

True, omens can be either good or bad, but the word is more often used in a foreboding sense.

To respond to your the heart of your comment, I believe there is an important difference between putting yahoo and google mail on remote web servers and putting paid for music on the cloud.

I don't mind where my mail is put, I can always print it out from a web browser or save the attachments to my hard drive. But I would very much rather have music I pay for (and photos) on my own hard drive, so I can access them easily for other projects. This is not offered on your 10 cent plan. Understanding this difference is important, especially when the paid for service you offer is already available on YouTube for free.


Submitted by admin - on October 23, 2008 at 09:00 am

But you have the option to buy the track for your personal use in MP3 format as well. I'm not sure what the problem is. You can choose to either utilize the cloud/web-only tracks for a drastically reduced price or purchase the tracks individually (or as an album) without DRM and a (in my opinion) very competitive price.

Submitted by David (not verified) - on October 23, 2008 at 02:11 pm

I don't understand why Jason doesn't like lala. You an always get the MP3 if you want to download and keep it.

Submitted by Gary Gnu (not verified) - on November 05, 2008 at 06:34 pm

Why would you criticize a good use of innovation, services such as Lala which allow you to put your own music library into the cloud are innovative or services such as Spotify. If the whole notion is that music must be free, it is its called radio

Submitted by a1by (not verified) - on September 20, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I second the last comment. Lala is providing an excellent service, and taking users to another level in digital technology. I'm not very knowladgable about band width and government intrusion issues when it comes to the Internet, but I do know that Lala's use of cloud technology is right on target and extremely consumer friendly.

Submitted by Bakari Bakari Chavanu (not verified) - on October 10, 2009 at 09:35 pm

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas