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LaLa.com: CD swapping dirt cheap

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LaLa.com: CD swapping dirt cheap

Old 04-05-06, 06:32 PM
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LaLa.com: CD swapping dirt cheap

Here's part of a New York Times article that dealt with new ways media is used through the internet, in particular a new site for trading CDs.


By Richard Siklos
New York Times, 4/2/06

A fascinating new entrant in the field is LaLa.com, a music-swapping site
introduced last month. Depending on where you are sitting, the LaLa concept
is either brilliant (if you are a music fan with a lot of CD's you don't
listen to, or if you are an artist) or terrifying (if you are a retailer of
new or used music, or perhaps even a music label).

Here again, the founders are not in it just for profit. Rather, their idea
is that despite all the cool new digital music services, well over 90
percent of the music industry sales are still in the CD format; most people
still have CD's and artists don't gain any benefit from the sale of used
discs. Many music lovers, the founders contend, feel disenfranchised by the
way music is sold.

So LaLa is essentially a CD-swapping site that matches people who want one
another's old CD's. It charges them a mere $1 a disc and provides the
postage-paid envelopes to send them in for 49 cents apiece. Out of each
dollar, the company voluntarily pays 20 cents to the performer on the
recording; there is no more a legal obligation to do so than there is to pay
General Motors a cut every time a used Chevy changes hands.

Bill Nguyen, the man behind several Silicon Valley start-ups, who is one of
LaLa's founders, said that the service might work just as well at a cost of
$4 a CD still a quite a bit cheaper than a typical used CD on eBay or in
an East Village record shop but that making money wasn't the point.

Like those of other purpose-driven ventures, the company's costs are
relatively low: it has only 17 employees at its offices in Palo Alto, Calif.
So far, the site has been operating by e-mail invitation only because Mr.
Nguyen and his partners want to build a strong base of music lovers, and not
just people looking for cheap CD's. Mr. Nguyen maintains that the site
already has 1.8 million album titles available for swapping. By comparison,
Amazon has more than one million different CD's available for purchase,
according to a spokeswoman for the company.

MR. NGUYEN expects to open the site to the broader public by the summer. And
no matter how successful the site becomes, he vows that it will not carry
ads for the music industry or for anyone else except some links to
charities. Nor will the company sell singles, although it will sell physical
and download versions of entire new albums.

He also asks that LaLa members "do the right thing," as he sees it, and
erase from their hard drives and iPods any copies of songs from CD's they
have traded. "We did a lot of weird things that didn't make sense," Mr.
Nguyen said proudly.

Or, maybe they do. After all, the company did manage to attract $9 million
in financing from the venture capital firms Bain Capital and Ignition
Partners. Obviously, these investors believe that there is money to be made
in communal efficiency, just as CNET must believe in its purchase of
Chowhound or eBay in its investment in Craigslist.

Maybe the lesson for media companies is to keep your friends close but to
keep these friendly menaces even closer. As far as Mr. Nguyen is concerned,
pursuing his labor of love is enough reward in and of itself. "We just dig
music," he said. "Karma plays a role, man."
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Old 04-05-06, 08:04 PM
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Sounds like a fantastic site, assuming it works out. They're still in invitation-only beta until July, so we'll have to wait a while. I'm all over it once things are running, though. I'm always looking to unload CDs for new ones, but I'm sick of lousy trade-in prices, the hassles and low profit-to-cost ratio of eBay, and rarely does anyone want to buy or trade directly.
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Old 04-05-06, 09:56 PM
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A music email list I'm a member of has a few people offering invites. A few have done it but others aren't thrilled that many people don't send the cover art with the cds.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:15 PM
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The only problem with there site its CD only!!!!!!!! No artwork and thats why I cancel
my account. If they offer artwork, I would be all over that.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:41 PM
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This post just came over the music list:



> For me reading the La la faq set off all my alarms. They use all the
> classic
> marketing tricks, from requiring the invitation (people want what
> they can't
> immediately get)

They're requiring invitations for the beta test. That's standard.
The site goes live -- invitation-free -- on July 1. No alarms there.

> and then they expect me to trade the
> CD and get a CD without artwork that I can't even trade at the local
> CD
> store, only through their service.

While it's true that the first few trades I got didn't have the liner
notes, every disc I've gotten in the last week (I've gotten 18 CDs in
about 10 days) has had full liner notes and tray card: when people
acknowledge receipt of the CD, they note whether it came with art or
not, and they match people who ship with art together.

So. 18 discs -- and we're talking stuff like two Beatles discs, Marti
Jones' USED GUITARS, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, the Raveonettes, the
first two White Stripes albums, good stuff that would be $6-7 at any
used record store if it was there at all -- for a total of, let's
see...$26.82.

18 solid CDs, 2/3s with full cover art, for the same price that I'd
pay for two new discs at Newbury Comics, or four or five at In Your
Ear. And at the same time, I parted with 18 CDs that would net me 50
cents credit each -- if that -- at either of those stores, almost all
of them out of my rejects and duplicates crate.

Exactly what part of this isn't a deal?
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Old 04-06-06, 12:48 AM
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It would be hard for me to wipe out stuff on my ipod to "do the right thing" as I never want to listen to a song until I can't. Sounds like a great service, though.
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Old 04-06-06, 07:13 AM
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Thanks for your input Buford. Really does sound like a cool thing. I wonder how many people will actually abide by the rules of wiping off non-paid for MP3s? I didn't realize some discs would go out w/out artwork.
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Old 04-06-06, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by atlantamoi
I wonder how many people will actually abide by the rules of wiping off non-paid for MP3s?
I don't believe you have to do that.
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Old 04-06-06, 08:50 AM
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Sorry, but if I buy a CD, I expect it to be in its original packaging.

This "lottery" method of maybe getting the whole package and maybe not - not for me.
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Old 04-06-06, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
I don't believe you have to do that.
I agree, you paid for that CD at some point (I assume), so why would you have to delete it?
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Old 04-06-06, 10:01 AM
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Because you sold the product. You don't have the right to listen to it anymore once you get rid of the product.

You bought it, you own it. You sell it, you don't own it anymore. Pretty simple.
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Old 04-06-06, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Corvin
Because you sold the product. You don't have the right to listen to it anymore once you get rid of the product.

You bought it, you own it. You sell it, you don't own it anymore. Pretty simple.
I do not agree with that, IMO. You paid for it. The artist got paid for it and so did the record companies. If my CD gets stolen, I do not own it anymore, but I would not delete it from my MP3 player.

When you are dealing in used CD's the record companies and artists are out of it. Technically if anyone is wrong, it is the person buying it used who is getting the cd without paying the industry, but since that is not illegal and the record industry screws us, I do not care about that.

Just so you know, I am against illegal downloading, and I buy a lot of CDs.
I also feel the recording industry is greedy. I buy my CD's on opening week for 9.99 or use BMG's 12 for 1. I am also considering this deal. Also, I do not sell my CDs often. Once in a rare while if I buy a CD That has Only one good song, I will sell it, but I dont listen to it because it sucks.
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Old 04-06-06, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by josuff247
I do not agree with that, IMO. You paid for it. The artist got paid for it and so did the record companies. If my CD gets stolen, I do not own it anymore, but I would not delete it from my MP3 player.
Then you're breaking the law. Whether or not it's a good law is a different issue. But that is the law.
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Old 04-06-06, 02:32 PM
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BTW, if anyone has an extra invite, I'd love one (ill_dorado at hotmail.com). Thanks!
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Old 04-07-06, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by illennium
BTW, if anyone has an extra invite, I'd love one (ill_dorado at hotmail.com). Thanks!

Illenium. You have an invite in your email.
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Old 04-07-06, 09:15 AM
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I keep going over the concept of this start-up in my head since it was announced. Really, it seeks to capitalize on the fact that people won't do as they suggest and erase from their iPods and hard-drives the music they've ripped. I mean, in order to keep the swap going full-bore, you have to have a steady stream of titles people might actually want. This means a significant portion of the people using the system have to be surrendering to the service desireable, tradeable titles. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of so many used music shops - where they wind up with a huge selection of music that nobody - and I do mean NOBODY wants.

Of those 1.8 million "titles" - I'm betting 50% are the falsely maligned "Monster" by R.E.M., 10% copies of Lou Bega's "A Little Bit of Mambo," another 10% any selection from the Spin Doctors' oeuvre, 5% Jesus Jones' "Doubt," 5% Billy Idol's "Charmed Life," and the remainder a smattering of scratched up Michael Bolton, Maroon 5, Linkin Park (the mash-up disc with JayZ) and Mudvayne CDs. Check your local used CD shop, I guaran-fucking-tee they have this exact mix. All of them do.
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Old 04-07-06, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by illennium
Then you're breaking the law. Whether or not it's a good law is a different issue. But that is the law.

Is it worse if this is the item?



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Old 04-07-06, 09:50 AM
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Yes. Yes it is.
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Old 04-07-06, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by illennium
Then you're breaking the law. Whether or not it's a good law is a different issue. But that is the law.
Is that in fact a law? I do not know for sure. I take your word for it, although That would be a stupid law (as you somewhat stated).

If it is in fact a law, this is more reason why the RIAA is causing there own downfall. Anyway, Like I said, I don't sell my cd's and keep em on my mp3 player anyway, and I legally get my CD's cheap. But I supported the artist and bought there album. I should be able to do with it as I please. Again, this is my opinion. Its a really crappy way to treat the customers that do the right thing.
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Old 04-07-06, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by grunter
I keep going over the concept of this start-up in my head since it was announced... a significant portion of the people using the system have to be surrendering to the service desireable, tradeable titles. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of so many used music shops - where they wind up with a huge selection of music that nobody - and I do mean NOBODY wants.
I agree completely. I can't remember the names of the sites now, but this is not an original concept, and the previous attempts failed. It's possible that people are much more willing to copy their titles to a hard drive than they were five years ago, but I'm still doubtful.

Of those 1.8 million "titles" - I'm betting 50% are the falsely maligned "Monster" by R.E.M...
Oh, c'mon, where's the 34% for Arrested Development's debut album?
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Old 04-07-06, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SAShepherd
Oh, c'mon, where's the 34% for Arrested Development's debut album?
Good one!
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Old 04-07-06, 01:12 PM
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I'd really appreciate an invite if anyone has one. [email protected]
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Old 04-07-06, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by monkey
I'd really appreciate an invite if anyone has one. [email protected]

Monkey. You've got an invite.

I have one left!
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Old 04-07-06, 01:40 PM
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Thank you very much.
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Old 04-07-06, 07:26 PM
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An invite for me? [email protected]
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