CD Swapmeet::La La Love Ya, Don’t Mean Maybe

    by Mark Glaser
    March 10, 2006

    i-c5fb343a27d4c878115aaecafaa6517b-La La logo.JPG
    I have a wall of CDs that sit around gathering dust. I always thought that one day I would just rip them — i.e. copy them to my computer hard drive — and get rid of them. But that day never came, and the CDs just sat there, unlistened to and unloved.

    Then came La La, a service that lets you trade your old CDs for new (old) ones. Within a couple days of signing up for the service, I had received a CD from someone else, and had sent out five of my old dusty CDs to others around the country. Believe it or not, someone wanted my Jellyfish album.

    I was hooked. Why? It’s a simple premise. You simply list the albums you have, or a subset thereof. And then you list the albums you want, with help from a recommendation engine on the site, or by perusing other people’s collections. As you see albums on the site, you can click the “Want” or “Have” buttons to add them to your lists. You pay $1 plus shipping (about 68 cents) for each album you get and nothing to ship them out. La La provides shipping envelopes a la Netflix.


    Probably the best thing about the service is the instant gratification. Within minutes of listing my CDs, I had two requests to send them out. And the day after I listed the ones I wanted, an album was on its way to me. It’s like the Columbia Music Club, but without the hassle of having to quit or pay high prices for a couple albums.

    There’s also a bit of a karma check going on, as La La makes sure you’re sending out CDs before you can receive a lot of them. There’s also a social networking aspect of the site, as you can see other collections, and make comments on them. Plus, you can start a blog or add friends just like on MySpace or other social networking sites.

    But the real attraction for me was the chance to get rid of the old and receive the new. And as my taste in music seems fossilized in the early ’90s, there’s a lot of music that is new to me — even if it’s not really current.


    Despite my instant addiction to this service, there are some downsides. You have to wait for shipping envelopes and cases for CDs before you can send them out. You have to rely on others to send you the CDs and hope they are in good shape. And you don’t send along liner notes or the jewel cases, so you just receive the CD.

    In fact, it’s a little odd that the moment you receive a CD, it automatically goes on your “Have” list, so others can claim it immediately. It’s almost as if the system assumes you’ll be ripping the CD to your computer and then mailing it on to someone else. And of course I can rip my CDs before I send them out — though I’m not allowed to send burned CD-Rs to people.

    The company believes it’s on the good foot with the record companies and artists, because it plans to give 20 cents on the dollar to artists, but I wonder if the labels will go for that. Mike Masnick at Techdirt blogged about La La, saying that dot-coms have tried and failed at swapmeets in the past, and that the problem with them (and a similar DVD trading service called Peerflix) is that you can only get the bad stuff and never get good stuff. He also questions the legality of ripping and sending CDs around endlessly.

    But I don’t think the company is going away too fast, as it just received $9 million in funding. And I don’t see that it has all that many costs, outside of envelopes and CD cases and hosting the site. At the moment, La La is still officially in beta testing, and you have to sign up to get an invitation.

    But so far, I’d have to say I’m impressed with how it’s worked out for me. And I can finally see the day when my wall of CDs will disappear, scattered to the far corners of the country, where people can enjoy Jellyfish, A House and Mudhoney and relive the early ’90s to their hearts’ content.

    What do you think of La La or other online swapmeets? Do they have value for you? Would you like to trade your old media with others online?

    • Lisa Stocker

      I don’t see this swapping of media via internet any different that swapping with your friends locally. Its a good way to get rid of the old movies, cds and books that you already read and want more newer ones but don’t have the funds or time to hunt them down. I think this is a novel idea and I love it.

    • Joe

      This lala thing isn’t a new idea. SwitchDiscs.com is already doing it with dvds, cds and video games. Not to mention switchdiscs is free unlike this lala site. what a stupid name lala. i don’t know how these guys get funding when there are already sites like switchdiscs doing it and for free.

    • The German company Hitflip offers since several weeks what Lala promisies it once will do. At http://www.hitflip.de users trade their Music CDs as well as DVDs, audiobooks and games very sucessfully since nearly a year.

    • Peerflix has been offering a legal, peer-to-peer online exchange for DVDs for about 18 months. Lala re-applies many of the innovations introduced by Peerflix. Contrarily to previous dotcom swap sites, Peerflix allows members to trade directly with one another in a distributed, decentralized fashion. From a business perspective, it marries a bit of an eBay with a Netflix or Napster, without any of the logistics costs or inventory. From a consumer standpoint, it provides Internet users a new way to get DVDs, inexpensively. At Peerflix, each DVD you receive costs just $0.99 cents. It’s a fun way to trade in the stuff you own and no longer want for the stuff you really want to watch. And in the proverbial one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I just got Vera Drake and Kinsey shipped to me this week. I think those are good movies.

    • Titletrader.com has been doing this for nearly 2 years. You can swap DVDs, CDs, Books, and video games. You can even swap across categories. Best of all its all free.

    • kai

      oh very nice, thx 4 the infos

    • Nice Idea. On http://www.egoshare.com you can also share your music. They provide a free Hosting Service. Upload with one click and download from anywhere. Maybe interessting if you want to share Music with your friends.

    • Thanks for the useful info.

    • Nice work.Thanks for informations

    • Thanks for informations.Geat work

    • On http://www.gamesonly.at you can share your games.
      At this page, this is possible since 1997 so i think, thats nothing new.. but perhaps a good idea .-) why spent much money for new, when you can share as used.

    • deck

      How about a new DVD trading site?
      Flickflop (www.flickflop.com) is the newest way to trade your used DVD movies.You trade against flickflop’s growing inventory of DVD movies so you trade immediately, no more waiting if a DVD is available from another member.

      check it out!

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