This should really come as a surprise to no one:
The linked article from Hypebot includes this chart from web-traffic monitor Alexa:
…which shows that Lala's ranking has jumped from #10-15,000 to something closer to the top 1,000 or 2,000 websites (it's not exactly an easy chart to decipher).
So even as Bob Lefsetz rails against the Lala model (and Taylor Swift, or whatever other pea has found its way under his mattress this morning), it's clear that the partnership with Google is going to provide a huge lift for Lala.com.
Now I have to agree with Bob, that once you become accustomed to "access to" instead of "ownership of" music over the web, that the "nickel-and-dime" model that Lala presently employs is pretty tedious. And I still have no idea where my pennies go when when I authorize them.
But that's pretty much beside the point for now. The lift in Lala's ratings hints of the sea-change that is afoot in digital music distribution. That chart means that thousands — hundreds of thousands, maybe millions — of people are beginning to discover the vast wealth of recorded music they can listen to online — if they can simply disabuse themselves of the idea that they need to "own" what they're listening to.
The trade-off is just so obvious, I can't believe more people aren't rushing into it: instead of spending $10 or $15/mo to "own" one CD with maybe ten or twelve tracks, you spend the same month to have "access" to… fucking EVERYTHING!
And by "everything" I don't mean just the indie-released, recorded in the bedroom, some-body-please-listen stuff that populates the vast wasteland at MySpace Music. To the contrary, we're talking here about all the "popular," showing-up-on-the-radar stuff that you think you'd like to hear but maybe don't want to shell out $15 to buy. It's all out there now folks, and finding it is easier than ever thanks to Google's partnerhsip with Lala.
I agree with Lefsetz that what's missing from Lala is the monthly, flat-fee subscription program, and I don't know if they will ever flip the switch on such a service. Maybe there is something in their licensing arrangements that precludes that, I dunno.
What I do know is that while services like Spotify and Mog can't quite get their act together in the U.S., Lala is forging ahead with its service, and demonstrating to vast new legions of potential users that the universe of access is, quite literally, infinitely more vast and rewarding than a private library of recordings.