Here’s one straight out of the throwing spaghetti at the wall file: Lala, the online music company that maintains strict non-monogamous relationships with business models, is set to offer fans another way of paying for music. For ten cents, users will be able to stream a single track as many times as they want for as long as they want. The new offering was first reported by Michael Robertson, who has of course made a career of trying similar experiments, some of which have revolved around the concept of the online music locker. Robertson also states that Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG), which has had a relationship with Lala, made a $20 million investment in the company in conjunction with the preparation of this new service. We’ve reached out to the company, which had no comment on the funding part. Lala itself started as a CD swapping service, winning much hype but with little to show for it. Currently it offers a mishmash of paid download, free streaming and social filtering, as we discussed last summer.
Right now the new service isn’t being touted at Lala.com, though it can be found here. Does it make any sense? For one thing it only works as in-browser streaming. There’s no downloading or transferring to an MP3 player. So while the industry is in obvious need of innovation, consumers aren’t really at a loss for restrictive online services that promise lower or free pricing. The lack of MP3 player support means it’s not an actual alternative, and generally consumers aren’t getting behind the subscription model. This particular model would require users to get behind a radically different way of consuming music than they’re used to, and a limited one at that. Ultimately, new schemes such as these are about finding new ways to make the same sale. Buy, lease, rent-to-own, no money down, interest only with a balloon rate after five years… the propositions usually come out looking pretty similar in the final math. (via Hypebot)
Addendum: I should have clarified, as a couple commenters politely pointed out, that Lala isn’t abandoning paid downloads. This is a new experiment in beta, not an abdication of its current business. And users who pay the for the $.10 streams can have that credited towards an MP3 purchase.