Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a weekly column about the future of technology, multimedia, and
Napster (the one that was brought down by the RIAA, not Microsoft) was the first online music revolution. Consumers loved it, but many artists (most infamously Metallica) opposed it, and labels loathed it. The iPod, which grew out of digital music collections fueled in part by Napster, started the second online music revolution, one that begat the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) and is still going strong after selling more than a billion songs.
Both the iPod and the iTMS benefited Apple, of course, but labels have had mixed feelings toward it as it has led to the disintegration of the album. When I recently asked the company, for example, about the ability to sample all the tracks on an album with one click in the iTMS (a feature that's been available on Amazon.com for years), Apple VP Eddie Cue replied that customers haven't asked for that. iTMS has benefited consumers by enabling them to acquire just the songs they want at any time, but its usage terms, while progressive for legal digital music, aren't as flexible as those for music ripped from CDs.
Can la la be the third online music revolution? The CD trading community still in private beta has much in common with DVD trading site Peerflix. On la la, you can trade any CD you have for any CD you want that’s available in members’ collections for only $1 plus postage. Like Peerflix, la la offers mailers to members to keep postage costs low and blows away half.com in making it easy to list and find CDs with an impressive search engine and catalog. I was able to enter the names of 80 of my CDs 10 minutes into trying the beta.