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Grooveshark logo horizontal.svg
Web address
Commercial? Yes (freemium)
Type of site
Registration Optional
Available in 30 languages
Owner Escape Media Group Inc.
Created by Sam Tarantino, Josh Greenberg, Andrés Barreto
Launched 2007
Alexa rank
Decrease 954 (April 2014)[1]
Current status Active

Grooveshark is a Web-based music streaming service owned and operated by Escape Media Group in the United States.[2] Users upload digital audio files, which can then be streamed and organized in playlists.[3] The Grooveshark website has a search engine, music streaming features, and a music recommendation system.[4]

The legality of Grooveshark's business model, which permits users to upload copyrighted music, remains undetermined. The company won a major lawsuit filed by Universal Music Group concerning use of Universal's pre-1972 recordings. Grooveshark has also been sued for copyright violations by EMI Music Publishing, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.[5] Concerns about copyrights led Google, Apple and Facebook to remove Grooveshark's applications from Google Play, the iOS App Store and Facebook platform respectively. However, Grooveshark is available in alternative app stores, such as Cydia.[6][7][8]


Pre-release (2007-2008)[edit]

Grooveshark is a service of Escape Media Group Inc. (EMG), based in Gainesville, Florida[9] with additional offices located in New York City.[10]

Grooveshark was founded in March 2006 by three undergraduates at the University of Florida,[11] including Andrés Barreto.[12] Founder Sam Tarantino became CEO.[13] During its first two years, Grooveshark functioned as a paid downloadable music service,[14] with its content sourced from a proprietary peer-to-peer (P2P) network called “Sharkbyte”. Grooveshark stated that it paid users who uploaded a transacted song a portion of the accounting costs for the song. Grooveshark positioned itself as a legal competitor to other popular P2P networks such as LimeWire, although questions about its legality arose from the beginning.[15]

Grooveshark entered beta in September 2007.[16] In the beta, users bought and sold tracks amongst themselves for 99 cents.[17] Around 70 cents went to the record label, 25 cents went to the user selling the track, and 4 cents went to Grooveshark. Grooveshark's model had been approved by various small record labels, but not by any of the major record companies.[17]

Flash web player (2008-2012)[edit]

On April 15, 2008, the service launched its web service, enabling users to click and play songs on the site without having to download an application.[11] The new web service was an Flash media player called "Grooveshark Lite",[18] and added a playlist autoplay feature.[19] The service rose in popularity, with founders Greenberg and Tarantino named 2008 finalists for Bloomberg Businessweek's list of "America's Best Young Entrepreneurs."[20]

As of 2009, Grooveshark had secured almost $1 million in seed funding.[21] Also in 2009, Grooveshark launched its artist platform called Grooveshark Artists,[22] which distributes music to fans interested in similar music.[citation needed][23] On October 27, 2009, Grooveshark revised its interface, which enabled users to skip to any point in a song,[24] left-hand navigation, customizable site themes, and drag-and-drop editing of playlists.[25] On December 2, 2010, the site's interface was rewritten for HTML5. Its music player continued to use Adobe Flash.[26] Another update occurred in October 2011.[27]

On January 18, 2012 Grooveshark removed service in Germany, stating that it closed due to the costs of licensing.[28] On November 21, 2011, Grooveshark was a Mashable Awards 2011 Finalist in the Best Music Service or App category.[29] On December 19, 2011, Grooveshark co-founders Sam Tarantino and Josh Greenberg were listed among the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Music.[30]

HTML5 web player (2012-present)[edit]

On August 28, 2012 Google Play restored Grooveshark's app.[31]

On September 5, 2012 Grooveshark presented its full HTML5 player, effectively nullifying Google and Apple's decisions to make the service unavailable to mobile apps.[32]

During the year of 2013, Cydia repositories iHackStore, BigBoss Repo, c0caine, and all other repos brought back the Grooveshark app for the iPhone with the ability to download songs and import them directly to the music app within the Grooveshark app.

As of July 2014, Grooveshark announced that it will now accept Bitcoin as a form of payment via Stripe. [33]


Grooveshark is a rich Internet application that originally ran in Adobe Flash. In December 2010, Grooveshark redesigned its site to provide an HTML5 interface.[34] Grooveshark displays songs, playlists, and users. Grooveshark has a Java Web Start application that scans users' folders for MP3s, uploading and adding them to the user's online library. The ID3 information of the uploaded song is linked to the user, and the file is uploaded to Grooveshark, which then offers on-demand music playback. All content on the service is user-sourced.[35] In 2010 Time's on-line supplement had listed Grooveshark among its 50 Best Websites.[36]

Grooveshark’s catalog streams over 1 billion sound files per month, contains over 15 million songs and has 20 million users.[37] Users can search and find music by song, artist, album, browsing friends’ recent activity, and even through other users’ playlists. The service allows users to create and edit Playlists. Registered users can save playlists to an account, subscribe to other users’ Playlists, and share Playlists through e-mail, social media, StumbleUpon, Reddit or an embeddable widget. Users can listen to Genre Radio Stations of particular genres or they can populate their own station via their list of Current Songs. The site can use the song list to stream similar music, and this stream selection updates, using user ratings of songs. Grooveshark features a “Community” section, where users can view the activity of friends by “following” them. Users can connect other social media accounts.

Users may obtain basic accounts without fees.[38] Grooveshark offers two subscription services that give users increased features, no banner ads, and playability on mobile devices.[39][40]

Critical reception[edit]

In 2013, Entertainment Weekly compared a number of music services and granted Grooveshark a "B", writing, "Users upload libraries onto cloud servers, which means fewer catalog holes. But there's only an Android app, and the Web interface can get sluggish."[41]

Copyright policy[edit]

CEO Sam Tarantino stated that the company strictly follows the takedown procedures of the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stating that usually Grooveshark expeditiously removes content.[42][43] However, representatives of the music labels say that songs that are taken down due to infringement claims often reappear almost immediately.[44]

Universal Records[edit]

The interface of Grooveshark (on 17 July 2012).
Robert Fripp claimed Grooveshark continued to distribute his music, after repeated takedown notices and other complaints.[45][46] His exchange was included in Universal's suit, filed in November 2011, against Grooveshark.[44][47]

Universal Music Group filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Grooveshark on January 6, 2010, alleging that Grooveshark maintained on its servers illegal copies of Universal's pre-1972 catalog.[48] In July 2012, New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Kapnick ruled that pre-1972 recordings were covered by the "safe harbor" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act[49][50] In April 2013, the New York State Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the decision, saying that pre-1972 licenses are not covered by the DMCA.[51]

In November 2011, Universal Music Group brought an additional lawsuit against Grooveshark for more than $15 billion.[52] UMG cited internal documents revealing that Grooveshark employees uploaded thousands of illegal copies of UMG-owned recordings.[47] Six individuals were named as personally having uploaded between 1,000 and 40,000 songs each; other employees had uploaded 43,000 songs, according to page eight of the complaint. For each of the 113,777 alleged uploadings, a penalty of US $150,000 was requested by Universal, amounting to an estimated US $17.1 billion.[53][52] Grooveshark denied all the complaints, complaining there was a "gross mischaracterisation" of the documents obtained during the lawsuit's discovery phase.[53] In September 2014, the case was decided in favor of the record companies, with damages not yet determined.[54]


One major label, EMI, had also signed a license-agreement for streaming music with Grooveshark in 2009 after settling a previous copyright lawsuit.[55] However, on January 5, 2012, EMI sued Grooveshark over non-payment of royalties[56] stating in their complaint that Grooveshark failed to provide "a single accounting statement".[57] As a result, EMI dropped its licensing agreement with Grooveshark.[58] In late 2012, EMI was broken up.

Independent labels[edit]

Grooveshark has licensing deals with a number of independent record labels,[59] such as Sun Records.[60][61]

Third parties[edit]

Due to copyright concerns and pressure from record labels, many third party companies have distanced themselves from Grooveshark. Apple removed its iPhone Grooveshark app from its store after only a few days on August 16, 2010, in response to a complaint from Universal.[7] On April 1, 2011, the Grooveshark application was pulled from the Android Market.[6] In May 2012, Facebook removed Grooveshark "due to a copyright infringement complaint".[8] At the end of April 2013 Google Search started censoring "grooveshark" term from its Autocomplete feature.[62] Beginning in 2012, the British Phonographic Industry has engaged Phonographic Performance Limited regarding Grooveshark's licensing, and as of November 2013, is attempting to have all United Kingdom ISPs block the website.[63] In November 2013, Korea Communications Commission has blocked Grooveshark.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  2. ^ Lindvall, Helienne (9 September 2011). "Behind the music: Why Grooveshark takes a bite out of artists' earnings". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "On-Demand Digital Music Service Grooveshark Selects Juniper Networks EX Series Switching Platforms to Build Scalable Cloud-Based Infrastructure and Improve User Experience", "Yahoo! Finance", 14 June 2010. Retrieved on 08-11-10.
  4. ^ Shames, Jade (13 May 2011). "Is Grooveshark the Future of Digital Streaming?: The Secrets of the Popular Streaming Site You're Probably Listening to Right Now". LA Weekly. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Musil, Steve. "Grooveshark now feels lawsuit wrath of all major music labels: EMI, which already has a licensing agreement with the music streaming service, alleges in a breach of contract lawsuit that it has yet to be paid any royalties". CNET. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  6. ^ a b "Google Removes Grooveshark App from the Android Market". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  7. ^ a b Van Buskirk, Eliot (2010-08-17). "Apple Bows to Label Pressure, Yanks Grooveshark From App Store". Wired. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  8. ^ a b Resnikoff, Paul ("paul") (8 May 2012). "Facebook confirms: 'We have removed the Grooveshark app...". Digital Music News. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Grooveshark: About". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  10. ^ McDermott, John. "Case Study: Can Grooveshark Get Its Groove Back?". Inc. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Interview with Grooveshark CTO Josh Greenberg". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  12. ^ Olle, Nick (16 February 2012). "Just Don’t Call Him The Colombian Mark Zuckerberg…". The Global Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Grooveshark Brings Legal Music Streaming to Gators and the World" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  14. ^ "CNET Editor’s Review: Grooveshark". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  15. ^ "Grooveshark offers P2P music downloads but is it legal?". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  16. ^ "Grooveshark’s Interview". Startups Open Sourced. 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Morrison, Chris (5 December 2007). "Grooveshark offers P2P music downloads — but is it legal?". Venture Beat. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Ready, Julia (21 April 2008). "Legal P2P program Grooveshark debuts web media player". Paste. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Riley, Duncan (26 August 2008). "Grooveshark Autoplay: Pandora for the rest of us". Inquisitr. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "2008 Finalists: America's Best Young Entrepreneurs". Bloomberg Businessweek. 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "VentureBeat Profile: Grooveshark". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  22. ^ "Grooveshark Artists". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  23. ^ [self-published source?] "Musicians Find Fans at Grooveshark Artists". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
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  25. ^ "Grooveshark 2.0 Keeps Getting Better". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  26. ^ "Grooveshark Interface Receives an HTML5 Boost". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  27. ^ "Sneak Peak at the New Grooveshark Redesign". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  28. ^ "Grooveshark denies service to Germany due to "unreasonably high" licensing costs". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  29. ^ "Mashable Awards 2011 Finalists". Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  30. ^ "Forbes 30 Under 30 in Music". Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  31. ^ "Music streaming Grooveshark app back in Google Play". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  32. ^ "No app store? No problem. Grooveshark rolls out full HTML5 site for all devices". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  33. ^ Hong, Kaylene. July 15th 2014 TheNextWeb. "Grooveshark now lets you pay for its music streaming service with Bitcoin"
  34. ^ "Grooveshark Interface Receives an HTML5 Boost!". Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  35. ^ "Grooveshark Now Does Widgets, Music Uploads". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  36. ^ "50 Best Websites 2010: Grooveshark". Time. 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  37. ^ Pan, Joann (2012-09-05). "Grooveshark Circumvents Mobile Bans by Launching an HTML5 Player". Mashable. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  38. ^ "Is Grooveshark Free?". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  39. ^ "What is Grooveshark Plus?". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  40. ^ "What is Grooveshark Anywhere?". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  41. ^ Anderson, Kyle (January 18, 2013). "What's the Best Music Service?". Entertainment Weekly (New York: Time Inc.): 14. 
  42. ^ "Grooveshark CEO Rails Against UMG-Forced App Takedown". Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  43. ^ "Grooveshark DMCA Takedown Policy". Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  44. ^ a b Sisario, Ben (14 December 2011). "Sony and Warner are said to sue web music service". New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  45. ^ Peoples, Glenn (21 November 2011). "Grooveshark lawsuit reveals details of Universal Music Group's allegations". ( Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  46. ^ Resnikoff, Paul ("paul") (13 October 2011). "King Crimson can't get their music off of Grooveshark, so they cc'd Digital Music News...". Digital Music News. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  47. ^ a b Lawsuit claims Grooveshark workers posted 100,000 pirated songs. Greg Sandoval, CNET, November 21, 2011
  48. ^ "UMG v. Grooveshark" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  49. ^ "You say you want a revolution? Music industry in turmoil again.", "", 18 July 2012. Retrieved on 12-11-12.
  50. ^ "The Shark Bites Back -- Judge will hear Grooveshark's counterclaim against Universal" | publisher= ""|accessdate= 12-11-12.
  51. ^ Alex Pham, Billboard (23 Apr 2013). "Universal Music Group Wins Appeal Against Grooveshark". Holywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 Dec 2013. 
  52. ^ a b McMillan, Graeme (21 November 2011). "Universal Music sues music streaming service for 100,000 illegal uploads". Time Magazine. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  53. ^ a b Resnikoff, Paul ("paul") (23 November 2011). "Grooveshark is now facing $17 billion in damages...". Digital Music News. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  54. ^ BEN SISARIO (29 Sep 2014). "Judge Rules Against Grooveshark in Copyright Infringement Case". New York Times. Retrieved 6 Dec 2014. 
  55. ^ Van Buskirk, Eliot (2009-10-13). "EMI Drops Suit Against Grooveshark, Licenses It Instead". Wired. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  56. ^ "Digital music service Grooveshark sued by EMI". Reuters. 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-05.  Jonathan Stempel, Reuters
  57. ^ McMillan, Graeme (6 January 2012). "Now Grooveshark is being sued by EMI Music". Time Magazine. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  58. ^ Sandoval, Greg (3 April 2012). "EMI, Grooveshark's only major label, tears up contract". Cnet. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  59. ^ Sanders, Rick. "In Grooveshark’s Defense: Red Flags and Financial Benefit (Part 7 in our Online Music Services Series)". Aaron Sanders PLCC. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  60. ^ "Grooveshark Signs Licensing Deal With Sun Records". Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  61. ^ "Grooveshark Labels List". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  62. ^ Movie Studios Win ISP Blockade Against EZTV and YIFY-Torrents
  63. ^ Chris Coplan (13 Nov 2013). "Grooveshark faces ban in UK, top executive murdered". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 13 Dec 2013. 

External links[edit]