Review of lala.com

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If you’ve never heard of lala.com, here’s the quick run-down: a bunch of really smart people, with lots of seed money, have set up a system whereby you can trade CDs with other people for a dollar or so. It’s basically an intermediary for CD trading.

To simplify further, to trade CDs that you have, here’s what you do:

  • You have an original CD that you are willing to part with.
  • You list it on their system. This is pretty easy to do, and their search function employs the latest trendy AJAX technology, so various search results appear as you type.
  • If another lala member wants your CD, you get a message tellling you that somebody wants your CD.
  • You put that CD (must be an original!! no burned CDs!!) into a CD protector and a prepaid envelope that lala has already sent you. (I’ve already received four shipments of Tyvek envelopes, protectors, stamps, and instructions, all before I provided a credit card number.)
  • You get a credit for that CD; you can use this credit to receive a CD.

Now, of course you want to get some CDs in return:

  • You list the CDs that you want.
  • You hope that they will match up with the CDs that people are willing to send.
  • You pay $1.75 for each CD you receive.
  • When you do receive your CD, you need to log into your lala account to let them know that you’ve received it. You currently have several options when you acknowledge receipt:
        • Received in good condition
        • Received in good condition with liner notes
        • Received but the CD is broken
        • Received but the CD is not an original
        • Received but the CD is not the one I requested
        • Never received

        It’s all pretty easy to do, but you need to make lots of stops at the post office or the local mail box. To date I have sent nine CDs and have received two. The first CD I received was a bit scratched up and wouldn’t play in my old CD player, but by that time, I’d already marked it “received in good condition” in lala.com. In the meantime, I sent off a bunch of other CDs, all in good faith that the system would work out. A few days later I was happy to learn that somebody had promised to send me an old Ministry album that I don’t have on CD. It took a while to arrive, but when it did, it was in perfect condition.

        lala throttled me for sending out too many CDs at one time. This is the message I get when I have five original CDs in the mail to the people who have requested the Cds: “You have too many CDs in transit. Please wait a few days for the recipients to receive their CDs in order to continue shipping.”

        Now, about the CDs you can expect to receive: granted that I have received only two CDs, but it certainly seems that it is much easier to trade the big name albums. For example, I have many requests for AC/DCs Back in Black and for Van Halen’s Van Halen, but not a single request for Meat Beat Manifesto. To be fair, I do have a bunch of requests for my Sonic Youth, Ministry, and Jane’s Addiction CDs. But nothing for Grotus, Patsy Cline, The Shamen, etc.

        But I have high hopes for this site. Hopes so high that I have sent out four times as many CDs as I have received. It’s turning out to be a lot of fun to see what is coming to you.

        Edit: I just got notification that I’m receiving some lesser-known stuff that I wouldn’t mind having on CD–Bad Brains’ Eye Against Eye, and eponymous albums from Dirty Vegas and Jane’s Addiction.

5 responses to Review of lala.com

  1. There’s a system like this for DVDs called Peerflix, but it’s a little less attractive because the number of movies I’d really like to own is much less than the number of CDs I covet, and the ratio of copyright-free or cut-rate movies to those I’d really appreciate having is usually high enough that there aren’t enough in-demand movies to go around. Does lala have the same problem?

  2. I’m a very happy lala’er. As of this writing, I’ve traded 92 CDs, meaning I’ve sent (or agreed to send) and received (or am promised to receive) 92 CDs.

    Of those, I’ve received a good 25 CDs and have shipped 50 or so. The rest are “in transit,” meaning they’re on their way to me.

    To compare, I joined peerflix the same day that I joined lala (maybe two weeks ago?). I’ve sent four DVDs with peerflix, but have received only one, but that hardly counts, as it was the freebie you get when you join and pay with a credit card. I’ve yet to receive a DVD from another peerflix member, even after two weeks and after sending four of my own DVDs out to others. According to a blog post made by the founder of lala, Bill Nguyen, peerflix has an inventory of approximately 250,000, which it took more than a year to build. But according to Bill, lala is adding that many CDs to its available inventory every week.

    So lala is a whole different story. The site is very sticky, and it’s designed to promote community. I’m very busy, but during those times I need to work on the computer, I find myself frequently refreshing the lala screen to find out who wants what I have and who’s sending me what I want. On many occasions I’m surprised that I actually got what was on my Want List, since I knew it would be very difficult to find those titles.

    Wondering about volume? There have been days that I’ve sent out eight CDs and days I’ve received four. On average, though, I guess I’m shipping out one or two CDs a day and receiving about the same. The lala algo works very well to keep the two numbers very close to each other, and will actually prevent you from shipping out too many CDs (partly to prevent fraudulent shippers).

    Actually, as I type this, I’m listening to an Interpol CD that I’d been wondering about for a long time, but didn’t want to pony up $20 just to try out. But with lala, I can–for the price of a CD I don’t listen to and a buck fifty.

    Oh, you can’t join lala right now by visiting the site. You need to be invited. I’ve got a couple extra invites if anybody’s interested. But it’s US-only, and I ask that anybody who’s interested be serious traders. Lurkers should wait for the public release. :D

  3. I just joined LaLa.com. It seems great but only time will tell. Thank you for the info that you provided. It is usefull feedback.

  4. The site is going strong and improving almost daily.

  5. Here is a website that actually lets you return cds if you don’t like them! http://thediscwizard.com

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