A different approach to music

How original can your idea be? Sometimes, the best ideas are not radically new ones but just a twist on an existing idea.

How original can your idea be? Sometimes, the best ideas are not radically new ones but just a twist on an existing idea.

Right now, the most successful online music service is iTunes. Trying to build rival service that's offering basically the same thing would be a waste of time.

Trying to build a service that is completely different is pretty damn risky. People are used to iTunes and like it. Asking people to try something new when they are pretty happy with the existing service is a tall order.

Lala.com is offering an iTunes-like service with a few clever twists:

* It allows consumers to buy non-DRM songs and load them directly onto their iPods. * It also allows for variable pricing (unlike Apple) something that will please music publishers who have been calling for that. * The variable pricing doesn't just apply to album prices but to each customer. Regular customers who buy a lot will get lower prices. * You can view other people's playlist and thus discover new music from people with similar tastes * You can listen to entire songs for free before you decide to buy

There are some drawbacks, of course, chief of which is that so far only one major label, Warner Music, has signed on, although the company is in talks with the other big labels.

Big question: Will Apple retaliate and do something to make it impossible or difficult for the songs to be downloaded into the iPod?

Since Apple sells songs mainly to fuel demand for iPods, any service that helps to make the iPod more popular should be welcome.

If Lala.com is able to expand its offerings by securing deals with the other big labels, it could be a new force to contend with in the world of online music.

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