The Death of Grooveshark
Ah, Grooveshark. It was good while it lasted. Music fans across the globe are weeping the loss of this once amazing website. Those of us who surfed the world wide web on over to www.Grooveshark.com found just about every song that we desired. The Grooveshark music library was remarkably diverse. It featured everything from bubblegum pop to indie and even user created mix tapes. Grooveshark co-founder, Sam Tarantino, actually uploaded over 5,000 copyrighted songs to the music streaming service himself. At its peak, Grooveshark had a user base of 35 million music fans.
Grooveshark was sued by the four major record labels and proceeded to close up shop. The website’s closure represents a major blow for music fans and a significant boon to the music industry. It was only four years ago that Grooveshark was first sued by the top record labels for copyright infringement. Grooveshark survived that legal attack only to lose round two this past week. A judge ruled that the music streaming service must pay $736 million in damages to music industry record labels. The ruling essentially put the company out of business after nearly a full decade of operation.
Grooveshark executives posted a note to its fans last Thursday to explain why the website ceased its operations. The statement explained that Grooveshark failed to obtain licenses from those who held the rights to the majority of the uploaded songs.
“That was wrong,” the statement read. “We apologize. Without reservation.”
It was quite the unexpected and abrupt ending to a widely lauded music platform. You could find just about everything on Grooveshark. Users were empowered to create their own playlists and save them for future use. The website also permitted users to stream full length albums, such as Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, that musicians routinely banished from other free streaming sites such as YouTube.
While Grooveshark representatives apologized for uploading music that they did not secure the rights to, many music fans feel that such an apology is not necessary. While we all want to be compensated for our labor, many music fans truly believe that musicians should not be able to make a living for simply creating music. Grooveshark served as an important platform that provided high quality streaming audio without those pesky advertisements that interrupt YouTube playlists. Grooveshark fans argue that the website exposed them to high quality music from bands that they otherwise would not have discovered. Many Grooveshark users will testify that they proceeded to spend money on concert tickets, t-shirts, hats, posters and even the albums of the artists that they discovered on the website.
Grooveshark’s fall represents a monumental victory for the major record labels. It is clear that music fans will only be able to access the music that they desire by suffering through YouTube advertisements, using illegal bit torrents or simply paying out of pocket. Pay for play services like Spotify, Apple’s iTunes and Jay Z’s Tidal stand to benefit the most from Grooveshark’s death. The website’s demise is reminiscent of the failures experienced by Napster, Grokster, LimeWire and just about every other free online music service outside of YouTube. Yet many music lovers are adamant that it is only a matter of time until another free music streaming service pops up to take Grooveshark’s place. If the major record labels sue that website into oblivion, another will arise, then another and so on. If one is willing to put in the work to find a free online music streaming service or bit torrent, he is likely to find it somewhere in the depths of the Internet. Executives at the top record labels are banking on the fact that most music fans will eventually give up on their search for free ear candy and shell out their hard earned cash for the music that they so dearly covet.