Lala.com, the $1 CD swap service, has added another feature to their music community site, live and recorded concert casts. The concert casts can only be listened through an embedded player on Lala . Each cast is made by specific partnerships with bands and the venues they play. The first such concert was Aimee Mann’s Holiday Show on December 13th at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco CA, USA. The recorded version is available through the front page of their site or here. The comedy of “Best Week Ever”‘s Paul F. Tompkins and spontaneity of a live show really make it an entertaining listen. The next live show will be a concert by Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell and the Werewolves in a benefit concert for Bay Area kids music programs. In the coming months they will be incorporating more venues and bands and a networking of sound booths across the country to make live recordings for recently acquired WOXY.
The free live shows are a great addition to the site and join their other four offerings: terrestrial radio, citizen radio, music swapping, and new music sales. The backbone of their site still remains CD swapping, though. For a deeper description of the service see our previous coverage. Their internal numbers indicate they have 300,000 registered users and conduct 12,000 CD trades a day, with 30% of their revenues consisting of new music sales, and are cash-flow positive.
We had originally likened Lala to Peerflix. However, Lala differs from the movie swap site in that they have gone to great lengths to not only be a marketplace but to also build a community around enjoying music, similar to the way Yelp has built a community around reviews. Along this line of thought, Lala’s John Kuch says their goal is to “democratize the discovery and distribution of music by putting it in the hands of the people”. The sentiment is that experiencing and interacting with music is key to people’s purchasing habits. They struck out on this path in several ways, incorporating social networking features into the account, bringing terrestrial radio to the internet (mostly independent radio and their crown jewel WOXY), and finally allowing an expanding group of beta users to create their own radio stations.
To start streaming user generated “citizen” radio stations, Lala had to jump through several legal hoops left over from the days of terrestrial radio and the DMCA. Stations’ playlists can be no shorter than three hours before they repeat a song. You can only place two songs from any artist on a station. You can’t listen to your own station with the login you used to make it. Each play of a copyrighted track also means a payment to the SoundExchange. While meeting those conditions, you can join their over 400 other citizen stations by creating a playlist of songs from their internal archive of 1.8 million albums add in your own recordings via plugin.
Lala’s continued focus on creating community through adding more ways to experience and talk about music makes it an interesting play in my mind.