Remember the old days, when Lala was a simple down-home CD trading service, just like Mom used to make? You would list all the CDs you wanted to get rid of (or all the CDs you claimed to own, using their iTunes library scanning plugin), and all the CDs you wanted, and the magic elves would match you up with other people so you could have their stuff and they could have yours. The USPS greased the wheels, and everything ran smoothly. That is, until every single member hit that point where everyone wanted their stuff, but no one was offering anything they wanted. So everyone ended up with the fabled "green light" status with absolutely no incentive to ship out any CDs. And that was the end of the story.
Until they opened their music store! A great alternative to Amazon or CD Baby or [insert list of 5,000 other online music retailers] where you could order relatively low-priced CDs right from your want list. And that was the end of the story.
Until they bought Woxy.com, tried to get you to upload your music collection and make your own radio stations and a bunch of other weird stuff. And then they went out of business. And that was the end of the story.
Until now. Lala has finally embraced my own personal philosophy of music: that it belongs in the cloud, accessible from anywhere. As you may have read elsewhere, Lala has been beta testing a new service whereby you can purchase "web songs" for only 10 cents - these songs live on Lala forever, and you can stream them as many times as you like once you've paid your initial 10 cents. In addition, you can upload your entire music library to the Lala cloud (well, all the songs that match Lala's fairly extensive licensed library) and stream them from Lala whenever you want. And they're selling DRM-free MP3s. Suck on that, Rhapsody.
I think this is a great move for them, and for DRM-free music in general. Of course it would be great if you could actually get high-quality files (FLAC, anyone?) as opposed to just MP3s, but it's still a move in the right direction. I've long been an advocate of keeping your entire music collection in one giant digital place and playing it back from a variety of locations and devices, and this seems like a great way for people to do just that. And I like the idea of a 10-cent "permanent rental."