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 🙂