The Land of lala

Many of us have a fair-sized collection of CDs, and I am no exception. However, many of those CDs have not been listened to in years. Due to changing tastes, there are even a few that I several that I don’t ever wish to listen to again. Some of these are due to changing tastes, others were purchased back in “The Golden Days of Music”, when there was no way to pre-view a CD, so you bought “blind”, only to find one hit song and nine chunks of no-account “filler”

In bygone years, I have tried shifting some of these CDs by putting them up for sale on eBay, but unless you are dealing with a rarity or something very recent, they tend to go for next to nothing. Once you have paid off eBay and PayPal it almost feels like you have given them away.

All was lost… until I stumbled across some CD Trading Sites The idea is quite simple; you post your collection of CDs that you are interested in trading and set up a “want list” of CDs you would like. If you want a CD that is in someone else’s collection they are notified, and they can browse your collection. If they see something that they like then the trade is on – you simply mail each other the required CDs and post feedback on each other, and the website pockets a small fee.

When I started using Zunafish a few months ago, the site was somewhat sluggish, but they recently upgraded some stuff and things are moving along quite nicely now. Zunafish charges $1 per trade for each partner. Shipping costs about $1.50 per CD and a decent #0 bubblewrap mailer is about $.50 from Wal-Mart. Total cost: About $3 per trade.

While exchanging e-mails with a Zunafish trading partner I heard about two other CD-trading sites, so I thought that I would check them out. One of these – lala – differs from Zunafish in two significant ways.

First of all, you do not “swap” CDs in the classical sense. Lala figured out that the chances that someone who wants one of your CDs has one that you want are slim, so they came up with a different approach. Lala works on a network/credit system. You send out CDs that others want and then a total stranger else sends you one of the CDs that you want. The system keeps track of your “score”, which they refer to as your “Karma” (everybody say “Ommmmmmm”…)

Secondly, Lala provides prepaid packaging. They send you a batch of CD mailers, and charge you 75c for shipping each time you send one out. This is far more convenient than Zunafish, as you don’t have to run around looking for padded bags. It’s also much cheaper, partly because you do not send out the CD cases, just the disk and artwork, which makes for a package that is light, tough and cheap.

To get the ball rolling, Lala takes a leaf out the Drug Dealers’ Playbook – “the first one’s free”. Just post a list of the CDs you want, and before long one of them will be on its way to you. The ball is then in your court; you have to sent away one of yours before you get another one.

Lala’s website is an absolute joy to use. Hover over the image of an album cover and you get a popup that gives you more information. Start typing the name of an artist and the system guesses the artists with clickable links (for the technically-inclined, this sort of technology is called AJAX).

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of using Lala is setting up the list of CDs you want and the list that you have. You can also flag your CDs to show which ones you have cover art for and which ones you want to keep (i.e., you don’t want to trade at the moment).

I like Lala; it gives you everything you need, and nothing you don’t. You pay 75c to ship a CD and $1 to receive one. They bill you monthly. Unlike Zunafish, Lala actually seems to care about their customers. When a Zunafish trade went wrong and a CD arrived mangled (nobody’s fault by the Post Office), Zuna’s website didn’t have anything to say. When I e-mailed them, the reply was unhelpful. Lala has a solution. If the CD is received damaged, lala has a procedure that reports the problem and credits your account.

Lala gets my vote. Now… does anyone want some of those Michael Bolton CDs I seem to be unable to get rid of?

Now Reading: Dark Lord – The Rise of Darth Vader, by James Luceno

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Comments

  • Wizard Prang  On April 7, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    P.S.: Lala “revamped” their site in 2008, and shifted their emphasis away from trading.

    At some point between November 2009 and today (April 2010), they stopped trading entirely, and referred those interested in trading to swaptree.com.

    What is annoying about this is that no notification was given, and the credits I have built up (I had sent away five more CDs than I had received, so they owed me five “trades”) have vanished in a puff of logic.

    P.P.S.: Zunafish seems to be down – temporarily, or so they say. They didn’t tell me that they were going off-line either.

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