Apple acquired Lala last year. The popular service sold songs for 10 cents. The songs streamed in web browsers. Music could not be downloaded for the low priced tracks. Update: Higher priced tracks could be downloaded.
On May 31, Apple will shut the service down. The streams will no longer be available. Apple will give iTunes credits to Lala customers.
MP3tunes is one of the most interesting alternatives to Lala. Michael Robertson is the company's founder. He is also the founder of MP3.com, a company he started in the 1990s and later sold. During its time, MP3.com was the largest online music site in the world.
MP3tunes has a promotion underway for Lala customers. Lala customers that wish to switch to MP3tunes may do so for 10 cents, the cost of single track on Lala. For the price of that song, uses get 50 GB of free storage space for their music. The service would normally cost $39.95.
MP3tunes offers an API, which may give the service its biggest edge. They have figured out how to get the music you store to play on any number of devices including:
- The iPhone, Android and a variety of mobile devices
- Consoles such as the Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii,the TiVo.
- The Clarion MiND for playing in a car.
- Web apps including Google Desktop
Unlike Lala, users may keep their music in an online locker but they may also download it. Other services share similar models.
For example, Canonical launched a music service earlier this year that allows people to buy music, sync it to their own device and upload it to a cloud service.
MP3tunes offer a similar service. Michael Robertson:
"About a year ago I wrote, "Your music will be controlled by Lala and will eventually vanish, because no company lasts forever." I can't promise MP3tunes will last forever - all companies will eventually go away. But I can do the next best thing. Each MP3tunes customer gets a software program called LockerSync which you can use to download your entire library anytime you like. It's the ultimate insurance policy so that you'll never be dependent on MP3tunes or any other company for your media."
What will the Apple service look like? The labels are wary of Apple. Deals will be much more expensive. And we hardly expect an API. And we wonder if that may be Apple's achilles heal. Without an API, Apple will have to rely on its own devices to deliver music. And that's a potentially limiting approach.