LaLa.com revives WOXY

LaLa.com revives WOXY

At 10:10 a.m. tomorrow, CD trading service LaLa.com will begin rebroadcasting popular Internet radio station WOXY.com in conjunction with a plan to allow members of LaLa.com to create their own radio stations for free public streaming. I had a chance to sit down with a LaLa rep and talk about the new relationship, as well as the changes that are taking place now that the service is out of beta and gaining steam.

A record store experience
If you take a moment to cruise around LaLa (if you don't want to register, just click on the album art to enter the site proper), you'll notice how nicely visual--lots of album art and a member image scroll across the top--the site is. But something is missing: music. Can you imagine entering a record store and hearing nothing but other shoppers flipping through albums? Depressing, isn't it? LaLa founder Bill Ngyuen, who, incidentally, has had some great ideas in the past and thus some disposable income to burn, started thinking about how to remedy this. In the process, he found out about a well-received alternative radio station called WOXY.

WOXY: A history
Ohio-based WOXY launched in September 1983, with the aim to be an independent alternative and modern rock station; it was quite successful. It received more than its fair share of praise from the music press and its listeners. (Fun trivia: Dustin Hoffman repeated WOXY's tagline--"97X--Bam! The Future of Rock & Roll"--more than 70 times in the movie Rainman.) In 1998, WOXY launched an Internet stream of the broadcast station and gained listeners from around the world. But despite this success and retention, the station owners announced in 2004 that they were selling the broadcast license and related properties and closing up shop. The day after the last broadcast, as the staff wandered into the parking lot prepared to say good-bye for good, two angel investors approached the group and proposed to keep the Internet broadcast on the air. Unfortunately, the funds dried up, and WOXY quietly stopped streaming last month.

LaLa.com + WOXY.com = BFF
Or "WOXY, the station that wouldn't die." Not so long after the off-the-air message popped up on WOXY.com, Bill posted a message on the boards entitled White Knight, expressing his interest in saving WOXY and creating a partnership with LaLa.com. The post has had more than 75,000 views and 71 pages of replies. The first pages are filled with skeptical yet hopeful messages, while the end pages are full of excitement for the upcoming relaunch of the station, which will have its own streaming link on LaLa.com as well.

But the WOXY DJs aren't the only ones who'll get to entertain the members at LaLa.com. The service is also launching its own station creator, which will allow members to create massive playlists that will act as radio stations that all other members--and eventually the general public--can stream from the site. An alpha group of DJs (a selection of established members) has already been given access to the tool, and those stations will be available tomorrow. Currently, the radio feature has a long way to go--the interface is imperfect, and there are only about 150,000 tracks from which to choose. Eventually, the radio interface will have a dial for tuning into your favorite members' stations, and many more songs will be available for adding to your station.

Trouble from the RIAA?
Actually, no. LaLa has been very careful about following the letter of the law, which includes obtaining the proper licenses and imposing certain rules on the DJs. The stations must be at least three hours long, you can only use two songs per artist, and you cannot listen to your own station (bummer). But, hey, it is free, so I'm not gonna complain too much.

LaLa.com has more cool music plans for the future. Stay tuned for a full review of the service.

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