Lala.com is a new online music site that allows members to legally trade CDs for $1, and become DJs (for free) by creating custom radio stations for anyone to listen to. Lala.com offers students on a tight budget the cheapest legal way to get and discover new music. According to Lala.com, they are a little Myspace, a little Netflix and a little eBay. Lala.com has more 3.5 million CDs listed by its members. The way it works is that members trade CDs through the mail by shipping their CDs to other members in prepaid Lala mailers. For every disc sent, members get a disc.
The primary function of the Web site is brokering trades of CDs between users. Trades are not made directly from person to person, but through Lala.com. The Web site maintains a database of nearly every commercially-available CD in existence, from which users create a “Have List” (a list of CDs owner) and a “Want List” (a list of CDs desired). When a match between one user’s Have and another user’s Want list is found, the user having the disc is invited to send it to the user wanting it. When the receiver acknowledges that they have received the disc, the sender is credited for a trade. This credit then allows the sender of the original disc to receive a disc on their Want list from another user via the same mechanism.
If a member receives a damaged CD, then Lala will find a new one and have it sent to the user at no additional charge. According to Lala.com, once someone signs up, the first CD is free, no shipping costs, no risk involved.
Justin Sung, marketing and business developer for Lala.com, says that the site currently has 200,000 members.
“(We have) over a thousand CDs trading a day,” Sung said. “(Members who trade) can keep the CDs for as long as possible. If you don’t want it anymore then you can trade it back out on the Have list.”
Unlike Half.com, Lala pays shipping costs, which are recovered as an additional fee to the trade brokerage fee. Shipping kits include envelopes pre-stamped with traditional postage (a $0.65 postage stamp) and a $0.49 shipping charge is added for each received disc.
Lala.com has arisen due to the legality of the peer-to-peer (P2P) sites. P2P sites are computer networks that rely primarily on the computing power and bandwidth of the participants in the network. Any site where music, videos and movies can be downloaded illegally is considered a P2P site. Napster, Kazaa, Ares, BearShare and Limewire are some sites where music can be downloaded. These sites set their users up with a shared folder on their desktop.
What makes Lala.com different is that they get money to the artists whose music is being traded. Since P2P sites do not charge their users, the artist does not gain money.
“People don’t want to pay $16 for a CD,” Sung said. “Stealing music from the P2P sites is a cheap alternative for students, but the artist doesn’t see any money.”
Twenty percent of the trades go back to the artist, as long as the artist is registered. “The money is directly sent to the artist,” Sung said. According to Lala.com The “Z” Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to unite working musicians to address the economic challenges they may face. The “Z” Foundation will focus on providing health and dental care that is often inaccessible to working musicians.
The “Z” foundation is named in honor of Fr. Brian Zinnamon SJ, a Jesuit priest who recently passed away. Bill Nguyen, founder of Lala.com, said that Zinnamon challenged him and co-founder John Cogan to be creative in their charitable work.
Lala.com not only has music trading, but they also sell CDs, if you just want to purchase one a discounted price. “La la is for music fans discovering new music without paying $16,” said Sung. “(There is) no fee for membership, the only time you pay is when you want to receive a CD.”
Lala.com offers a streaming online radio where members can be their own DJ. “(Members) can create their own radio stations,” Sung said. Members can add songs, have play list, minimum 3 hours long, and can record 20 minutes of their voice.
“You can publish your own radio on lala.com, even if you are not a member you can listen,” Sung said. “We want to give the music fans a choice of what to listen to.”
The radio broadcasts are through WOXY, which Nguyen purchased just 4 days after WOXY 97.7 shut down.
“La la’s member base is about talking about music, creating a conversation about music,” said Sung.