Type of site
|Available in||30 languages|
|Owner||Escape Media Group Inc.|
|Created by||Sam Tarantino, Josh Greenberg, Andrés Barreto|
|954 (April 2014[update])|
Grooveshark is a Web-based music streaming service owned and operated by Escape Media Group in the United States. Users upload digital audio files, which can then be streamed and organized in playlists. The Grooveshark website has a search engine, music streaming features, and a music recommendation system.
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. 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.
Grooveshark was founded in March 2006 by three undergraduates at the University of Florida, including Andrés Barreto. Founder Sam Tarantino became CEO. During its first two years, Grooveshark functioned as a paid downloadable music service, with its content sourced from a proprietary 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.
Grooveshark entered beta in September 2007. In the beta, users bought and sold tracks amongst themselves for 99 cents. 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.
Flash web player (2008-2012)
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. The new web service was an Flash media player called "Grooveshark Lite", and added a playlist auotplay feature. The service rose in popularity, with founders Greenberg and Tarantino named 2008 finalists for Bloomberg Businessweek's list of "America's Best Young Entrepreneurs."
As of 2009, Grooveshark had secured almost $1 million in seed funding. Also in 2009, Grooveshark launched its artist platform called Grooveshark Artists, which distributes music to fans interested in similar music. On October 27, 2009, Grooveshark revised its interface, which enabled users to skip to any point in a song, left-hand navigation, customizable site themes, and drag-and-drop editing of playlists. On December 2, 2010, the site's interface was rewritten for HTML5. Its music player continued to use Adobe Flash. Another update occurred in October 2011.
On January 18, 2012 Grooveshark removed service in Germany, stating that it closed due to the costs of licensing. On November 21, 2011, Grooveshark was a Mashable Awards 2011 Finalist in the Best Music Service or App category. On December 19, 2011, Grooveshark co-founders Sam Tarantino and Josh Greenberg were listed among the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Music.
HTML5 web player (2012-present)
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.
On August 28, 2012 Google Play restored Grooveshark's app.
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.
Grooveshark is a rich Internet application that originally ran in Adobe Flash. In December 2010, Grooveshark redesigned its site to provide an HTML5 interface. 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. In 2010 Time's on-line supplement had listed Grooveshark among its 50 Best Websites.
Grooveshark’s catalog streams over 1 billion sound files per month, contains over 15 million songs and has 20 million users. 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.
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."
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. However, representatives of the music labels say that songs that are taken down due to infringement claims often reappear almost immediately.
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. 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 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.
In November 2011, Universal Music Group brought an additional lawsuit against Grooveshark for more than $15 billion. UMG cited internal documents revealing that Grooveshark employees uploaded thousands of illegal copies of UMG-owned recordings. 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. Grooveshark denied all the complaints, complaining there was a "gross mischaracterisation" of the documents obtained during the lawsuit's discovery phase. In September 2014, the case was decided in favor of the record companies, with damages not yet determined.
One major label, EMI, had also signed a license-agreement for streaming music with Grooveshark in 2009 after settling a previous copyright lawsuit. However, on January 5, 2012, EMI sued Grooveshark over non-payment of royalties stating in their complaint that Grooveshark failed to provide "a single accounting statement". As a result, EMI dropped its licensing agreement with Grooveshark. In late 2012, EMI was broken up.
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. On April 1, 2011, the Grooveshark application was pulled from the Android Market. In May 2012, Facebook removed Grooveshark "due to a copyright infringement complaint". At the end of April 2013 Google Search started censoring "grooveshark" term from its Autocomplete feature. 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. In November 2013, Korea Communications Commission has blocked Grooveshark.
- List of social networking websites
- List of Internet radio stations
- List of online music databases
- Streaming media
- Peer-to-peer (P2P)
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- Movie Studios Win ISP Blockade Against EZTV and YIFY-Torrents
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