Apple Shuts Down Lala: Here are 5 Alternatives

Apple plans to shut down Lala, the cloud-based streaming music service it bought in December 2009. Lala stopped accepting new users today and will close on May 31. Thanks to its unlimited music locker and innovative pricing scheme, Lala had long been a favorite of ours. Rumor is that Apple will revive the service is some form under the iTunes.com label, but as with all things Apple, this is just a rumor until Steve Jobs walks on stage and announces it.

Given the date of the shutdown, we assume that Apple will make an announcement about its plans for Lala/iTunes.com at it’s annual WWDC developer conference, which is set to begin just a week after Lala shuts down.

Until then, here are 5 online music services that either allow you to stream your own music collection or give you access to large libraries of streaming music. Some of these even allow mobile streaming, which is something Lala never offered.

Streaming Music Locker

MP3tunes

If you don’t want to be limited to playing the music that the music industry made available for on-demand streaming and you don’t mind paying a monthly fee, MP3tunes is also worth a look. Just like Lala, MP3tunes allows you to upload all your music to an online music locker and then stream it. MP3tunes offers a web interface, mobile apps and support for a range of other devices like the Chumby, Wii and Logitech Squeezebox. As we noted earlier this week, MP3tunes now offers up to 10GB of free storage.

Streaming Music Services

MOG

For $5 a month, MOG’s users get access to more than 5 million songs on demand. At this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, MOG also announced that it will offer mobile apps for the iPhone and Android platforms in the next few months. The service also offers artist-based radio stations that are similar to Pandora’s and Slacker’s offerings.

Napster and Rhapsody

While the name harks back to the early days of illegal MP3 downloads, Napster is now a pretty standard MP3 store that also allows you to stream any of the 9 million songs in its library. For $7 per month, you can stream all the songs in Napster’s library and download an additional 5 DRM-free MP3 files (more if you sign up for an annual plan).

Rhapsody also offers 9 million songs for on-demand streaming ($10/month), but unlike Napster, it also offers mobile apps (iPhone and Android).

Do-It-Yourself

Sockso

You can, of course, also use your own computer at home to stream music over the Internet. Simplify Music used to be our favorite service for doing this, but the company shut down last month.

A good alternative to Simplify Media is Sockso, an open source program, that can be installed on any Windows, OSX and Linux machine with very little effort (though you will need to set up the port forwarding on your router). The application gives you total control over your music experience and you can even share your music with anybody else on the Internet if you feel like doing so (and, of course, you have the legal rights to do so).

For a simplified version of this, also have a look at Opera Unite, which offers a built-in streaming music server for all Opera users.

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