LaLa.com: For Karmic Music Lovers
“Respect the artists and Karma will be on your side,” waxes Bill Nguyen at LaLa.com. Those ten words become the yang to the Recording Industry Association of America’s yin. Nguyen set up La La as a harbor for exploited musicians, a legal swap meet for fans, and a message to labels to make like a record and skip.
At La La (still in invitation-only beta but scheduled to launch in the next few months), users can scroll through public “have” and “want” lists to trade used CDs. A trade is required to obtain new music, and La La charges $1 per trade plus a 49-cent prepaid shipping envelope.
Here’s where it gets really different. Unlike the giant labels who drop scraps from the table for the musicians who actually have some talent, Nguyen says that twenty percent of all trading revenues will go to the artists.
“Despite what is depicted on MTV’s Cribs, a wonderfully entertaining show, most musicians don’t live large with a big house and five cars,” said Nguyen.
“Rather, the majority of musicians struggle to make a living from their recordings and must depend on other income producing activities such as performing concerts or selling merchandise.”
Looking to make music a “more communal social experience” and less of a corporate money grab, Nguyen set up his music discovery start-up with about $9 million in initial funding.
If an album can’t be found on the trading list, users can buy a new CD through a deal with CD distributor Baker Taylor. Though the site will eventually offer digital downloads, Nguyen does not plan to offer single track downloading like offerings available on iTunes and other services.
“Selling one song at a time is like selling just one chapter of a book,” Nguyen said.
Currently the holistic trading site has about 250 beta members who have traded over 12,000 CDs since November.