Two weeks ago, I asked "Has Apple killed off indie music service Lala.com?" Several commenters in the Talkback section scoffed at that idea.* Today, Apple made it official.
After a reader tipped me off this morning via e-mail, I logged on to Lala to see this message:
The members-only announcement reads:
You will be able to access and play all music in your Lala collection through May 31, 2010. Any mp3 songs purchased and downloaded from Lala will continue to play as part of your local music library. You can continue to purchase mp3 songs through May 31st using your wallet balance or other payment methods.
As of today, web songs, wallets, and gift cards are no longer available for purchase on Lala. Uploads have been discontinued, and we are not accepting new users for the service.
If you paid Lala 10 cents per song for web-streaming rights, that money will be refunded in the form of credit at the iTunes Store. Any prepaid funds will also be transferred to iTunes Store credits as well unless a subscriber specifically requests that the refund be made via a check. The latter option is available only if you send an e-mail to Lala support.
Apple has announced no plans to offer a similar music-streaming service of its own.
Update: On other websites, I see speculation, even optimism, that this is a harbinger of Apple getting ready to roll out a similar service. I find that possibility unlikely. If Apple had plans to offer a similar service, they would surely be able to migrate existing customers' "web rights" to a new service. Instead, those customers will be given credit at the iTunes store (or a check, if they demand it).
* Comments from the earlier post are illuminating in retrospect:
As long as I can listen to any song of my choice once and buy good-quality recordings for $0.10 a pop to stream at home and work I am okay. AFAIK none of these other services have such a consumer-centric model. Other than that just hoping it's not written in the user agreements that they can take my tunes or they don't start turning servers off or what not.
well, last time i checked, lala.com was still there. why not change your headline to something more reasonable like "apple changes a feature of lala"? o wait, of course, no hits then. …
isn't it more reasonable to suspect that apple has plans with it? …
when has apple ever bought a company to take their tech off the market?
i am waiting.
This is entirely speculative and a bit sensationalistic. Lala.com is doing just fine and I think it's at least as likely to expect Apple to further develop it and fold it into the iTunes brand.
Update 2: Lala sent out a blast e-mail to subscribers overnight containing the same information shown here. "In appreciation of your support over the last five years, you will receive a credit in the amount of your Lala web song purchases for use on Apple's iTunes Store."