Lala: The return of

Sometimes — in fact, most of the time — it seems as though the music industry has changed very little since the early days of Napster and the invention of the mp3 file. Lawsuits still shut down Web-based music services and tie people up in court, record labels still primarily ignore the potential of the Internet, and so on. But at least one thing has changed: the idea of an online music locker where you can store songs seems to be something to promote, rather than something to sue into oblivion. It’s one of the main features of the newly-relaunched Lala service.

This feature, as Harry notes at Technologizer, happens to be exactly the same as a service that Michael Robertson used to offer way back when, known as Users could simply have the service scan a compact disc and then the songs would be unlocked online, so that they could be listened to anywhere there was Internet access. It was a great service, and like Harry I was pretty sad to see it get shut down after a lawsuit from the RIAA (Michael has since tried to create a similar service at, which is also being sued by EMI).

Now, apparently, the four major record labels see the wisdom of such a service, and have licensed their music to Lala for that purpose. In addition to the locker function, the site also seems to be setting a new low in pricing: downloads are as little as $7.49 for an album — with streaming included — and you can stream any song for just 10 cents (although as Brad Stone notes, sites like iMeem and offer streaming for free).

Is the new Lala the next revolution in online music? It looks to have at least one compelling feature that no one else is offering, which is a good start. I’m trying the service out, and I’ll let you know what I think. Stan Schroeder at Mashable says that he doesn’t like Lala’s business model much, primarily because it’s too restrictive.

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