There was a time, once, when you could quickly and easily rip all of your music to the internet, where it would be aggregated and streamed back to you wherever and whenever you were. That time was 1997, and the site was MP3.com. Legal disputes saw it only lasting for a few years before being absorbed by the might of the record labels, but in the decade to come many tried to fill its shoes. One of the best was Lala
, a site that embraced the cloud and enabled streaming albums if you could prove that you had physical copies, but then went further by letting you buy online access to other albums for just a buck or two. (You could also buy MP3 versions at prices competitive to iTunes
.) You could also stream any album in the site's massive collection in its entirety once for free, which, for many of the products being produced by those major record labels, was more than enough.
Now, it's gone. We knew this was coming
, a result of Apple's purchase
of the site, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. The site was doing great things and seemed to be only a few mobile apps away from being even greater. Now those apps won't happen. The service will surely be reborn in a year or two as part of some cloud-friendly iTunes, but then it's doubtful that Lala will hum its melody to any device not sporting an apple embossed on the back. That leaves non iOwners with alternatives like MP3tunes.com and Catch Media, neither as polished nor as broad, and hopes that Google Audio
delivers on its promise. Until then, we'll be remembering the better times.