Hey music fans, what were your favorite features on Lala?
I love that question -- thanks, Eric! But I'll be pedantic and refuse to use the past tense until they actually shut the thing down on May 31st. Here are my favorite features on Lala:
Search. Their search is great. The suggest / autocomplete on the form element is logical, the search results are smart, the search result pages are well designed, and all of that makes it fast and easy to find what you're looking for.
Ability to play a song once all the way through without paying a dime. 30-second clips don't cut it; a good song is the perfect preview of itself. (Whoa.) I love being able to search for something a friend had mentioned, hit play and enjoy the whole damn thing. The single-play-for-free is also logical from a user's perspective; enjoy it now...if you want to hear it again, pay up.
The wallet. Throwing $50 on Lala every once in a while is a great way to make music buying an impulse thing. With money in your wallet buying that random track for me, a friend or someone on the family is a no-brainer.
Simple downloading. How you downloaded tracks was up to you. Click to download through your browser, or use the Music Mover to get things into the right place on your desktop.
And here are features that I wish I loved more than I do.
The library. I had the music mover scan my library and give me digital rights to stream all the music I owned (cough) on my local machine. But I never use it. Instead I play it from iTunes, or stream radio from Pandora. If they had actually released their iPhone app and that gave me access to all of my music while away from home, that would have been great.
The Music Feed. It's a great idea, but I don't have enough friends there doing enough sharing to make it worthwhile. Instead, it's just an OK place to keep up with recommendations from Pitchfork.
But there's one major feature that I love more than all the others: I love that Lala is on the web. From any browser on any machine I can sign in and search, sample and buy. It's easy to share a song on Facebook or Twitter. I can grab embed codes for any track and post them on my blog. Lala -- more than Pandora, more than iTunes, and in my opinion even more than Last.fm -- is of the web and for the web. Which is why I'm hopeful that Apple (with its deep love for HTML 5) is poised to do something ambitious with iTunes.com.