Wow – Grooveshark Could Revolutionize the Music Industry

Grooveshark Logo

In college, I downloaded music from our school’s network and used Winamp to play my music. I swore I’d never be one of those “fools” who actually paid for music and fell into the iTunes/iPod trap. Then I got an iPod for Christmas one year and realized I should start paying for my music (you know, since it’s legally and morally the right thing to do), so I fell in love with iTunes and to date haven’t looked back. Amazon’s affordable DRM free store is a great start, but they don’t have near the selection iTunes does. So I figured I’d always be an iTunes Store guy.

That is, until I started seriously playing around with Grooveshark. One of the best parts about Music-Alerts drawing some attention is that I’ve received praise from – and consequently struck up conversations with – some young startups in the music industry. One such new acquaintance is Andrew Wise of the upstart company Grooveshark, which was started by three University of Florida students. It’s so unique and has so many features, that I’ll just cut to the chase and list off what it does:

  • There are two components – your online profile and the file-sharing software (like old Napster or Limewire) that accesses your MP3 files.
  • You can listen to streaming music for free on the site as much as you want.
  • You can create playlists, add friends, receive suggestions, etc (all the social networking stuff).
  • When you want to download a track, you add funds to your account and buy it DRM free for $0.99. Royalties are paid to the labels, to Grooveshark, and to the person who you’re downloading the song from. Hence the slogan “everybody gets paid”.

After being invited to be a BETA tester, I just went in minutes ago and set up my profile and added $5 to my account. I then proceeded to search for a song, download it, and import it into iTunes (gotta be able to transfer it to the iPod). It worked awesome. Bottom line – as long as Grooveshark is able to strike up deals with all the labels and be legal, it’s now where I’m starting my music search. It’s a cross between a social network, p2p file sharing system, and streaming music service. For the same price as a song on iTunes, I get it DRM free and I get the advantages of a social network that knows my music habits (incidentally, if I have a feature request it would be to import my iTunes library XML file so it already knows what music I like).

The only real question is about the legalities. What are the origins of the music I’m downloading, and if 90+% of the music on the site is bootleg, how will record companies feel about it? On one hand, they might like the fact that they’re actually making money from it when they otherwise wouldn’t be. On the other hand, they might not like the fact that other people are getting a cut for uploading it. Only time will tell. I’m certainly rooting for it to work.

P.S. – the Music-Alerts Facebook App is REAL buggy. I know about it, I just hate debugging under the constraints of Facebook. I’ll fix it…eventually. My bad 🙂

5 comments on Wow – Grooveshark Could Revolutionize the Music Industry

  1. Anthony says:

    That’s really awesome. But unfortunately, I’d feel slightly timid about using the service. You mentioned the idea that until labels buy into it the idea, most of the content is illegal. Well, that also means that there’s a database history of users who downloaded bootlegs. If the RIAA or individual labels decided they didn’t like the idea, they could do much more than go after Grooveshark; they could go after its users as well. Not a position I’m willing to put myself in when in the meantime I could a) buy a physical album, b) download music “off the books”, or c) use a 100% legit service like iTunes.

  2. I’ve seen several stories about this, and I always have to point out the downside. I love the idea, and have actually bought several songs from it, but refuse to share my music library.

    In the EULA, (http://beta.grooveshark.com/eula.php, article 7.3), you accept full legal responsibility for uploading any songs TO WHICH YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION. That pretty much will be your entire music library considering the list of labels as of last time I checked. Certainly in the next few hours a representative will come by and assure you that a new EULA is just about ready, in which they agree to indemnify you if legal action is taken. It’s been “just about ready” for far too long now, since I first heard mention from my thread on CNet (http://tinyurl.com/36dm6j) on October 7th.

    I totally love the business model, but I will not share my library until the legal issues get sorted out.

  3. Adam McFarland says:

    Agree completely Anthony and Kevin – I did not share my library for the same reason, and I will tread with caution for the time being.

    I honestly have no clue how this is going to end: I sway back and forth on whether or not I think it’ll work, but I give them credit for having the balls to attack such a problem.

    There’s an interesting conversation over at Tech Crunch about these issues as well if anyone is curious http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/10/p2p-music-sharing-service-grooveshark-ups-compensation/

  4. Jay says:

    Full disclosure: I am a PHP developer at Grooveshark. (not a marketing guy or PR person though)

    Our current EULA sucks. I was pretty surprised by it because I, like most users, hadn’t actually read it and when someone pointed out the crap that was in there, I was pretty annoyed by it. I’m not afraid to share my music because I work for the company and I know that they wouldn’t sell out their users, even if they are legally allowed to do so, but I can certainly understand why other people would not be willing to use the service until the EULA is fixed.

    What I can assure you guys is that the EULA *is* actually, really and truly being worked on. It’s not just something the marketing guys are giving lip service to, it’s just that it takes time to get these papers back from the lawyers.

    In the meantime, if you really care about the EULA issue, send feedback to GS and ask to be notified when it is fixed. I think we should add an area so users and potential can sign up for this “alert” when it does finally happen, but there are lots of other bugs to fix and features to add so it hasn’t been a priority. If enough people manually ask to be notified when the EULA is fixed, the notification thing might get a higher priority.

    Note: My opinions/thoughts/suggestions/bodily funcitons are not those of Grooveshark and are not intended to represent them in any way. I’m just a programmer, man.

  5. Adam McFarland says:

    Thanks Jay. I definitely do believe that Grooveshark legitimately cares about their users, so hopefully the EULA will get fixed soon and ease everyone’s concerns.

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