Apple is on the verge of acquiring streaming music site Lala.com, known for its 10-cent streaming songs and digital music locker service, CNet is reporting. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but the report implies that an agreement is in place, with only a final sign-off remaining to complete the deal.
Founded as a CD-swapping service, Lala morphed into a digital music locker and browser-based streaming site that sold permanently accessible song streams for a dime apiece. The company is apparently only weeks away from introducing an iPhone application that would allow users to stream songs they already own from the cloud, rather than loading them onto the mobile device as MP3 files. Apple has never gotten into the streaming music game, preferring to sell downloadable song files through its iTunes store, but rekindled interest in music subscription services over the past year suggests that some consumers may be ready to make the leap to streaming music files from owning them.
Lala has raised about $35 million in three rounds of venture funding; a company executive told me in late October that it still has $13 million in the bank. Warner Music Group wrote off its investment in Lala in spring 2009, at the same time it wrote off its investment in another streaming music site, Imeem. News Corp.-owned MySpace is in the process of acquiring Imeem at a fire-sale price, just months after it acquired social music site iLike for a fraction of its former value. Bain Capital and Ignition Partners also hold stakes in Lala.
I’ve reached out to Lala seeking comment on the deal, and will report further as I hear more.