A New Day In Lala Land

Lala.com makes another bid for online success, as the former CD-swapping site becomes the latest to offer free listens.

Lala began life in 2006 facilitating CD trades where users would post what they had to trade as well as what they wanted in return, with the site making a few cents per trade.

With the 2007 introduction of Lala 2.0, the site moved into the digital music arena by offering its users the ability to upload MP3s to digital lockers for streaming to wherever those users had Web access.

Now Lala is offering two new features. The first is advertising-free, no-cost music, which in the Lala world means granting users one free listen per stream. From there, users may purchase unlimited listens to the same stream for 10 cents.

However, if users want to purchase the streams as downloadable, DRM-free MP3s, it’ll cost anywhere from 79 cents to 89 cents for the music files.

The second new feature is reminiscent of the old MP3.com MyMP3 service, where Lala matches songs from the users’ libraries against its own MP3 library and then streams those songs back to users upon demand. The difference between the new Lala service and the old MyMP3 service is that Lala has major-label backing while the latter ended up on the losing end of one of the biggest music infringement lawsuits in history.

“We live our lives in a browser, whether it’s e-mailing, watching television shows or using Facebook,” said Lala CEO Geoff Ralston. “When I launched Yahoo! Mail few thought hundreds of millions would depend on Web e-mail. My music belongs online in the same way. Will there be anything without a browser in five years?”


ARTISTdirect Goes Directly To Coghill

One of the first major attempts at an all-inclusive music Web company will be acquired for a price that’s hardly representative of the heady dot-com boom era in which it was born.

ARTISTdirect, which began life as a full-service company combining booking agency, record label, merchandise and other artist income streams, is being purchased by Coghill Capital Management for about $2.86 million.

ARTIST direct was founded by booking agents Don Muller, Marc Geiger and Bill Elson in early 1997 and the company launched with a booking agency roster containing some of the hottest acts of the time, including Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers. One of the company’s first acquisitions was The Ultimate Band List.

Under the agreement as detailed in a Form 8-K filed Sept. 29 for the period ending Sept. 25, Coghill is expected to acquire all assets of the company with the exception of digital rights management provider MediaDefender, which ARTISTdirect acquired in 2005.


TuneCore Likes iLike

Independent artists now have more to like about iLike as the music discovery site has inked a deal with TuneCore to provide streams from which artists will receive royalty payments.

While iLike is a pretty recognizable name in the biz, TuneCore is more of a business-to-business music site that specializes in distributing music to online services like iTunes and Rhapsody. By providing streams for iLike users, TuneCore places its artists in a very enviable social environment, one based on the concept that people who love to discover music also like to turn others on to their latest discoveries.

“We are pleased to team up with TuneCore, a group that shares our commitment to unsigned artists, to create a real solution for indie musicians,” said iLike CEO Ali Partrovi. “As the music industry continues to reinvent itself, we believe it’s critical to offer independent musicians equal opportunity alongside major-label artists.”


FBI Snags Hannah Hacker

He bragged about hacking into Miley Cyrus’ e-mail account. He even gave interviews boasting he’d never be caught.
Guess what. The FBI caught him.

Josh Holly, 19, received a visit from the FBI Oct. 20, which resulted in federal agents confiscating three computers and a phone from his Murfreesboro, Tenn., home, reports Reuters.

Evidently some people can’t resist that 15 seconds of fame. Shortly after the FBI raid, Holly contacted Wired.com to let announce to the world that his jig was up, and that someone “ratted” him out.

Holly apparently broke into an old e-mail account once used by Cyrus and absconded with a few photos that portrayed the “Hannah Montana” star as something other than the pure-as-the-driven snow image Disney has been promoting to the public over the last couple of years.

However, Holly couldn’t find a buyer for the barely risque shots, mainly because no one wanted to be associated with photos of a 15-year-old celeb baring her midriff that were not exactly obtained in a legal matter.


Oasis Goes On ‘Guitar Hero World Tour’

Yet another sign of performers seeking outlets for their music other than radio is Oasis joining up with “Guitar Hero World Tour,” the latest in the video game series.

Video games like Activision’s “Guitar Hero” series and the “Rock Band”series, which is produced by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and distributed by EA Distribution, give players the chance to act and sound like their musical faves. Both games come with faux instruments and the challenge is to press the right dots on the devices that correspond with dots scrolling across the screen.

Of course, you need music for those games to work, and many bands and artists have submitted their hits for gamers to master.

Judas Priest, Rush, Megadeth and AC/DC are just a few of the acts that have contributed to the “Rock Band” series, while Warrant, Poison and Aerosmith have placed tracks on “Guitar Hero.”

Oasis’ contribution to “Guitar Hero World Tour” is music from the band’s newest album, Dig Out Your Soul. The Oasis Track Pack, which consists of new songs “Waiting For The Rapture,” “Bag It Up,” and “The Shock Of The Lightning,” will be available in stores for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 platforms Nov. 6. The three tracks will also be released as music downloads for listening on both platforms.


Fanilows Boost Manilow

Never underestimate the power of dedicated fans.

Barry Manilow has a new album dropping Nov. 25. Called The Greatest Songs Of The Eighties, Manilow’s latest effort has him covering some of the biggest pop hits of that decade, including a duet with Reba McEntire on “Islands In The Stream,” as well as renditions of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” and “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That I Can Do).”

Here’s where the fan power comes in. Within one day of Manilow’s official site sending an e-mail blast to fans announcing the new work, the album shot up from No. 1,912 to No. 8 on the Amazon bestsellers chart.

Now, if only we could harness the fans’ energy for our automobiles. Just think of the possibilities!