In the online world of digital music, there are ton of different players competing for your ears. It often feels likes an ever-expanding world with more sites entering the fray. In case you missed the news, Imeem was purchased by MySpace. This comes a couple of weeks after the former social networking giant decided to stop competing with Facebook and Twitter, and focus on music after buying iLike. Of course, this also means MySpace will now be competing with music social networks such as Last.fm and MOG (which this site is affiliate with).
The online music world is continuing to evolve with free services beginning to charge. In fact, rumors are percolating that MySpace will begin to charge. If this happens, MySpace could fail all together. The music service is the worst. To be fair, I have always found MySpace ridiculous.
MOG also recently announced its own service, MOG All Access, which will have a small fee. Here is short video…
I used to find myself getting lost in the never-ending flow of Pandora, but this quickly changed when free streaming was limited to 40 hours per month and fees started. I also wanted to explore other ways to share music as well. Lately, I find myself lost in Grooveshark and Lala.
The more I use these services, the more I think Lala and Grooveshark could emerge as leaders. Both have business models in place and agreements with record labels. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Grooveshark is looking to become the largest music database that is populated by users. Any user can upload their own digital music libraries, which is then made available to the entire community. As I understand it, this is legal since Grooveshark has agreements with record labels. The site is advertising supported, but the user can pay $3 per month to eliminate advertising and have access to other benefits. Users can create their own playlists, embed them on websites. If users are on Twitter, StumbleUpon and/or Facebook, they can share links to tracks in those networks.
The one big frustration I have with Grooveshark is the lack of new music. HOWEVER, I understand this is the nature of the beast. It is aligned with the purpose of the website. Recently released music isn’t automatically going to appear until a user acquires and uploads the content. Of course, with user uploading content, labeling is a bit of an issue. Sometimes songs listed aren’t really by the artist you hope to listen to. Maintenance needs to be a little better, but overall it is managed well. I also wish the internal social networking capabilities were a little better. Lastly, I also think the recommendation engine is rather weak.
Lala is a music community with limited free streaming capabilities. I think the database is much larger. The website claims it has 7 million songs with no ads. The public database is controlled and includes newer releases. Lala does have a better internal networking system that allows users to follow members. Recent tracks from follows appearing in a profile stream. Lala has a great application that will automatically add personal digital music libraries. The recommendation engine is pretty decent as well.
What is unique about Lala, compared to all other emusic sites, is that users can choose to add tracks to their Lala web collection for a fee of about 10 cents per track, or the entire album for about $1.25 (depends on number of tracks). This allows the user to “own” the track online within Lala. Any user can also download MP3s for a price which is more competitive than Amazon.com. Overall, I think this is a positive for musicians and the industry.
The problems I have with Lala.com is the exact reverse from Grooveshark. As I just mentioned, Lala limits the ability to listen to anything on the community once. I also find the embedding capabilities obnoxious. Even though I can upload content, I can’t share it with anyone unless it is already part of the Lala database. I have all kinds of goodies I can upload and can’t share. This is where Grooveshark is MUCH better.
Both sites balance each other out pretty well. I will probably continue to use both equally. Both have a ton of potential, but each need to make some enhancements. I presume each site would agree. Enhancements are always necessary to remain competitive in fast changing industry.
Should anyone want to connect with me, here are my profiles for Grooveshark and Lala.