Grooveshark Has Lots of Listeners and Lawsuits

Grooveshark, an on-demand streaming service with a large global audience, is being sued by the four big record labels. They’re the talk of the town when it’s time to discuss services that make it harder for others that follow all the rules to keep listeners happy.


Grooveshark takes a bold approach to music licensing, allowing listeners to upload and share music, and other listeners to listen to any song in their library. Artists can ask to have their music taken down, although there are reports that this is easier said than done. Nonetheless there is an extensive explanation of how to do it on their website.

I first encountered Grooveshark in 2009 when they contacted me and asked me to write about their service. At the time, since they were running an on-demand service that was pretty unique in the US because it was free, I asked them about their music licenses. They told me they had experimental licenses with the record labels. Shortly after that they were sued by EMI – and I realized that it was experimental licensing on the part of Grooveshark – that they likely had no agreement at all with the labels and were waiting to see what would happen.

I’m not the only one that has a problem with this approach. I don’t often discuss licensing issues here on Audio4cast because I think there are other sources out there that do a better job. But it’s not okay with me that an unlicensed service may be growing audience and ad dollars at the expense of services that are operating legally and struggling to be profitable. It tarnishes the industry, creating distrust and dislike between labels and their artists, and the streaming services. It creates expectations among listeners that other services can’t deliver. It distracts ad dollars and casts a bad light on everyone…

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