Millions of us adore last.fm. Why aren’t Google, Amazon & Apple trying to copy it?
I’m one of the many people who love last.fm. I love getting a view of my listening habits over the course of years, and I love being able to see what my friends have liked and have been listening to lately. There are things about last.fm that I would like to see changed/added, but it’s a great site for music sharing.
And in the days when it was active, I found that the wall page on Lala to be extremely useful: seeing what friends of mine had listened to and liked.
Lala and last.fm
got so close to creating the perfect simple music sharing site. Why is it so hard for Google, Apple and Amazon—companies with more than enough resources to finish the job—to give us something great?
What people want from a social music site:
- To be able to share what their music statistics are (like last.fm)
- To be able to see what their friends are listening to and liking
What I’d love to see is a Facebook-wall type page that can either show only the songs that your friends have liked or show you a constantly updating stream of what your friends are currently listening to. I think that would be extremely addictive.
But the simple would be easy to implement. So why hasn’t anyone done it? Apple even bought Lala and would have easy access to people’s iTunes XML files and yet still failed mightily with Ping. Maybe Google has something up their sleeve for Google Music and Plus, but how tough would it be to, say, have your thumbs up tracks show up in Buzz? Or be able to put what you’re listening to now in Google Music on your profile page?
It’s too simple of an idea for it not to be done better already.
Apple’s deals with major music labels will not be a factor in the cloud player competitions
TechCrunch (among others) has been drooling over Apple starting to sign licensing deals with some of the major music labels for their inevitable (and, from the looks of it, coming soon) cloud music player/storage, finally making good on their purchase of the much-missed Lala.
The standard line is that, because Apple is succeeding where both Amazon and Google failed in getting the major labels, that they’ll beat their competitors handily. But what that assumption misses is that success in this area will have nothing to do with major labels. It will only have to do with the quality of the product. Now, Apple has a reputation for turning our quality products, so there’s no reason to believe that they won’t have a better product, but the deals with the music labels will be a minor factor into the quality of the product they’re able to turn out.
TechCrunch keeps mentioning how the agreements with the labels means that Apple will be able to provide a product that won’t require the user to spend weeks (or even months) uploading their music libraries to the cloud, saying that Lala was able to do that. But if they were able to do that, the feature wasn’t there when I joined Lala, because if took several months of uploading for me to get my library to the cloud. And even when I did, I only turned to the cloud player when I really wanted to listen to something that I didn’t have on my iPod. Which happened rarely, partly because what I want to listen to when I’m out is usually on my iPod, and partly because Lala’s cloud player was usable, but slow.
Lala’s greatness was in the ability to listen to full albums and not just 30 or 90 second samples without purchasing them. If Apple’s deals with the major labels allow them to do that, then that will be a huge advantage for them. But they haven’t done that in the iTunes store, and there were reports that Lala was losing money because of that face when they were purchased by Apple, so unless Apple has figured out a way to recreate that feature from Lala (and make money at it), they’re not going to have too much of a leg up on Amazon.
Even if Apple’s deals with the labels means that the uploading process is a lot faster, it’s still going to depend on the usability (and affordability) of the player itself that determines it’s success, and there’s no point in guessing whether they’ll be able to do that or not until we’ve seen their actual product.