As sure as the wind blows, an online music service that you use today will likely be gone (or have very limited functionality) in six months. Fortunately, most of the options I mentioned in my finding music online post from June are still viable, but I’ve found two great new sites (Lala and Grooveshark) to replace the big one that seems to have died (imeem – yeah, MySpace bought it). Of particular interest is the Lala Music Mover software which uploads your computer’s whole music collection so you can play it on their site. Main interface screen shot:
It seems risky (privacy issues?) to be uploading/identifying 8,767 of my digital music files to a website recently acquired by Apple, but I couldn’t resist. Basically, the Lala Music Mover is a little 2.4 MB app that scans whatever music folders you tell it to. It will then upload the song and add it to your Lala online account, or (see update below) hopefully be “smart” enough to recognize the song if it’s already in their system. Currently available for Windows and Mac only.
I installed it a couple hours ago and it’s autodiscovered 736 of them so far with 60 errors (mostly old, unfinished downloads lurking on my computer). I’ll keep it running in my system tray for about a day or two and then run it again from time to time to update my collection. I keep my ID3 tags in pretty good shape, so it’s identified most of the songs accurately so far; although I just noticed that it’s given me several tracks from NIN Y34RZ3r0r3m1x3d because it thinks they’re Ghosts tracks – bonus! There are several options in the app; I’m particularly interested to see how the “Upload songs that didn’t match our music catalogue” option will work.
I haven’t even bothered to see what other apps there are like this, but I’m sure they exist. I’ve been sold on Lala for the past couple months, so it was a logical step for me to go ahead and take advantage of the new app.
Did I mention that the Lala Music Mover and web service is free? There are three other big reasons why I’ve been using Lala so much:
- It doesn’t require any software to use it (unlike iTunes).
- You can download MP3s for about $1 on average, but you can also buy web-only versions for about 10¢ apiece. (2.b) You can listen to any complete track in their catalogue once.
- It’s easy to share embedded tracks, notably on Facebook.
Since I brought it up earlier, there’s also Grooveshark. It’s my new go-to site when I want to hear a song, but it’s streaming only (unlimited listens) and no downloads. I just tested their Java upload tool for the first time, but it’s not “smart” like the Lala Music Mover. It also reads, “Please allow up to 24 hours for your songs to appear in your library.” I just took a second to look into that feature and I think I’ll avoid uploading from now on so as not to get a cease and desist e-mail!
<UPDATE ’10Apr26> Sadly, it seems like Lala is too much competition for iTunes. Take a look at Ed Botts’ article a couple weeks ago, Has Apple killed off indie music service Lala.com? for details about the stalled Lala iPhone app, as well. I’m not sure when this changed, but the Lala site mentions that automatic song uploading through the Mover is no longer supported. You can, however, upload songs manually on their website. Not much else has changed with the app since I reviewed this over 4 months ago; they’ve gone from version 2.45.33 to 2.45.90. I just noticed that there is an official Lala Forums. </UPDATE>