I’ve recently signed up with CD-trading service lala. So far, I’ve really enjoyed the service. If you’re not familiar with lala, it is a CD-trading service where you provide a list of the CDs you have and a list of the CDs you want, and lala connects you with other traders. The service is based on the number of trades you make, so if you agree to send one CD to another user, you’ll get one CD from your want list. Each CD you receive costs $1.00 plus $0.75 for shipping; you do not pay any additional fees for sending CDs to other users. There are no subscription fees or monthly fees; you just pay for the CDs you receive. In essence, lala acts as a facilitator between traders and they receive a commission for connecting the traders.
I’ve made about 10 trades on lala so far, and it’s been extremely easy to do so. I equate the user experience of trading CDs with that of getting and receiving DVDs from Netflix, although with lala you own the CDs that you receive. Essentially, lala sends you the shipping materials you need, and when a user requests a CD that you want to trade, you simply package the CD up in the materials that lala sent you and then drop it in the mailbox. It’s as easy as that. I think that the reason that lala has been as successful as they have been is because of this process and the ease of shipping and receiving CDs.
Another feature of lala’s site that I’ve found useful is being able to preview music directly on the site. I’ve actually spent a lot of time on the site simply searching for bands and listening to music I haven’t heard before. This feature makes it really easy to discover new music, which appears to be a core component of lala’s philosophy. More features include the ability to send messages to people you’re trading with, and the ability to view other users’ collections.
Although I’ve been really happy with the service so far, I do have a few minor nits to pick. The home page is extremely busy with a lot of information thrown at you at once. This is both good and bad. The good is that it highlights some of the features of the site that I might not have noticed before. However, it also obfuscates some features. I received an e-mail the other night indicating that I had received a trading message from another user. I visited the site, and it took me a few moments to actually figure out how to view and respond to the message. A “Hot Tags” section also dominates the home page, and it just lists the popular tags for the day, which I don’t find all that interesting or useful. All in all, these are minor nits that don’t interfere with the trading experience on the site.
Although they are not legally obligated to do so, lala donates up to 20% of trade revenue back to the artists. I think that this is a great way to support the artists, who would traditionally receive no compensation for traded CDs, even though selling and trading original CDs is legal. lala also has a charitable founation to help support performing musicians by subsidizing the cost of healthcare and legal services.
If you have some CDs laying around that you don’t listen to anymore and would like to trade them for CDs that you want, then I’d highly recommend checking out lala’s service. It’s extremely easy to trade with other users, and I’ve discovered several new artists through the lala site. For another review of the lala service, you can check out Ars Technica’s review of lala.