The whole purpose of going to Lala is to stream free music, and soon that function will be taken away. Apple purchased Lala in December 2009 and is clearly up to something—no new members are currently being accepted to the site, and existing members will only be able to use the streaming services until May 31.
How this will affect Pitchfork, which leans heavily on audio streams from Lala, isn’t clear yet, but it’s possibly they know something about Apple’s future streaming plans (if there are any). Speculation is mounting that Lala’s functionality will be integrated into iTunes to form Apple’s own streaming service.
The site currently bears the following message for members only:
You will be able to access and play all music in your Lala collection through May 31, 2010. Any mp3 songs purchased and downloaded from Lala will continue to play as part of your local music library. You can continue to purchase mp3 songs through May 31st using your wallet balance or other payment methods.
As of today, web songs, wallets, and gift cards are no longer available for purchase on Lala. Uploads have been discontinued, and we are not accepting new users for the service.
Although Apple doesn’t have any known plans to offer streaming music services, its purchase of Lala surely indicates that it is heading in that direction. Why else would they buy the site and close it down within five months of shelling out for the service? But after that infamous iPhone leak, security is likely to be tight around any information regarding Lala's future.
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