When I wrote about my new favorite music web site back in January, little did I know that, just one month prior, the company I thought they would challenge for electronic music supremacy had already acquired them.
Apple purchased Lala in December 2009, beating out Google in the bidding process, and effectively squashing any potential competition in the process. Today, I received this email notification:
Dear C. Simone,
The Lala service will be shut down on May 31st.
In appreciation of your support over the last five years, you will receive a credit in the amount of your Lala web song purchases for use on Apple's iTunes Store. If you purchased and downloaded mp3 songs from Lala, those songs will continue to play as part of your local music library.
Remaining wallet balances and unredeemed gift cards will be converted to iTunes Store credit (or can be refunded upon request). Gift cards can be redeemed on Lala until May 31st.
Click here or visit Lala.com/support for more information, or to view Lala's Terms of Service.
It's a sad day in my world, as I was already getting used to being able to preview just about any album I desired, and purchasing the occasional web album for about a dollar. I had yet to purchase a full album of mp3s, but was also interested in the fact that Lala represented an option that was $2-3 per album cheaper than iTunes, and placed no restrictions on the number of computers I could authorize to play those files.
It's also hard to imagine that one company could purchase another for $85 million—confirming how valuable the acquisition is in the process—then turn around and simply shut it down. There is talk that Apple could have bigger plans for Lala's music streaming technology, but having effectively eliminated the competition, I see no incentive for iTunes to be more price-competitive.
I may not end up listening to the 350 new albums that I was on pace to this year, but I will survive. Thanks to my recent discovery of NPR's Exclusive First Listen, in addition to AOL/Spinner, there are still good sources for streaming new releases. Also, my subscription to eMusic—iTunes’ cooler, cheaper cousin, according to Rolling Stone magazine—provides me with an option to purchase music for about half the price of iTunes, and that service's selection is getting better almost daily.
If there are new music sources that I'm overlooking, please share. I'll be certain to continue to write about any new developments here.
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