Apple to Shut Down Lala.com, Continue Sucking the Fun out of Music Discovery

Why must Apple crap on everything I love. First – the mp3 player gets abolished by big bro iPod. Now, Lala.com – which I’ve participated in since Beta – is on a respirator for one more month before Apple officially pulls the plug.

lala.com original logo apple eats

Apple’s acquisition of Lala.com in late 2009, led to speculation that an online store — independent of the iTunes application platform — would take over the space. An iTunes.com — or iTunes in the cloud — if you will.

Lala’s humble beginning in 2006 was based on a business model involving the actual physical swapping of CDs through the mail. Or as they not-so-humbly declared at launch, “The Largest Record Store on Earth.” The site would be full of album covers and users would check “have” or “want” and then arrange to send and receive via Lala’s Netflix-like shipping envelopes, for $1 each.

As the tide turned decidedly away from CDs and toward digital music purchases, along with pressure and legal action from artists and labels, Lala launched 2.0 by 2008. The new Lala was a music “community” from which you could play, share, and discover music. Essentially taking the ultimate music store and putting it in the cloud with licenses for unlimited listens of songs and album at a fraction of what iTunes and Amazon charged – about 10 cents.

Lala.com’s valuation jumped to over $100 million by the end of 2009, aided by a $20 million investment by Warner Music Group. Warner dumped both Lala and iMeem in May 2009 citing losses of $33 million. Lala was acquired for an alleged $80-85 million by Apple in December 2009 (or as low as $17 million and even $3 million if you ask some).

Today Lala is integral to the music industry and serves up one of Billboard’s few weekly charts based on Web-plays and purchases.

On May 31th the service will be put down and customers who’ve enjoyed the fast rise and faster fall of the service are not too happy about it and now have until June 14th to apply for iTunes credits.

I wonder how many or the services that I listed on my September 2008 Socializing the Music Industry Guide even still exist. Here’s a list of alternatives posted at RWW today. I’m fortunate to be an early user of Spotify.

Personally, I’m still happy to buy CDs directly from the bands at their shows or from the labels. Otherwise I buy mp3′s at Amazon. Apple is evil.

Official note from LaLa.com posted below:

lala.com shut down refunds credits apple itunes lala note

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