On the Death of Grooveshark

I suppose on some level, I knew that it was too good to be true. I mean, Grooveshark.com allowed users to stream full albums of music that were searchable by song title, album title, or artist and they neither charged for the service or interrupted the music with advertisements. Something awesome like that can’t exist for long without breaking some kind of rule. And in Grooveshark’s case, the rule was one that concerns creative types around the world.

It all comes down to licensing rights. When a creative person creates something, be it a piece of art or music or writing, that person owns it until they sell or loan it to someone else. In the case of musicians, most musicians sign deals with record companies that allow their music to be heard around the world in exchange for royalties (money made on stuff that gets sold). The record companies can sell licensing rights to places that allow them to play the music for a certain amount of money (which goes to the record company and eventually trickles down to the original artist).

Here's the letter that is posted at Grooveshark.com.

Here’s the letter that is posted at Grooveshark.com.

It seems that Grooveshark wasn’t paying the correct licensing fees to the record companies who owned the music that it had available for streaming on their site. And that is a shame, because I really liked Grooveshark’s service. And as much as the record companies are probably happy that Grooveshark isn’t out there playing music for which they did not pay, there’s a downside for them too.

I can think of a number of artists and albums that I wouldn’t have been exposed to outside of Grooveshark’s service. It really was a great way for potential buyers to make informed decisions regarding the music offered by the record companies that ultimately shut them down. Did Grooveshark lead to enough buyers to justify not shutting them down? Unfortunately not, but I’m sure that it led to a few.

As a creative person who creates things with the hope of selling or licensing them, I totally understand the need to reign in illegal streaming and illegal downloading and pirating materials. But at the same time, part of me would be happy that people are enjoying my work, even if they came by it in the wrong way.

But I put my writing out there on this blog for free everyday, so maybe I’m the wrong type of creative person to share my opinions. All I’m saying is that I wish there was a legal way that Grooveshark could have stayed operational. Either by limiting the number of times that a song could be listened to before requiring a listener to pay for a subscription fee or to buy the album outright, or by raising the level of their advertising to be able to pay the licensing fees required.

So I guess it is back to purchasing physical albums again (I’m not a huge fan of purchasing books or music in wholly digital formats because I’m a believer in both the quality and lifetime value of a physical product). Unless of course, you want to buy them for me (just let me know that you want to buy me things and I’ll send you a proper list of stuff I want).

Did you listen to Grooveshark? How are you dealing with its death?

A King and a Kingdom | Happy 4th of July

Picture taken by Thomas Campbell on 9/24 at the Derek Webb concert at Ecclesia Church in Houston, Tx.When it comes to music, there are people who listen to the CD in its entirety and there are people who get stuck on one song and listen to it over and over. I fall into the latter category, especially when it comes to the music of Derek Webb.

I first heard Derek on the self-titled Caedmon’s Call record back in the early 2000’s. I think my brother is the one who introduced me to Caedmon’s Call. Anyway, back then, the song that I got stuck on was “Center Aisle.” Even now, I can’t listen to the song just once when it comes up on my iPod.

But what does that have to do with the 4th of July?

Ever since he went solo, Derek Webb has been a prophetic voice in the classic sense of reproving the church. His songs are not toe-tapping ditties meant to entertain. They are calls to action, uncomfortable reminders, and scourging truths. That said, they still fall into the “can’t listen to it just once” category for me. Maybe because I need to hear the truth again and again for it to sink in. Maybe I just enjoy the songs.

Either way, I wanted to share the lyrics for Derek Webb’s song “A King and a Kingdom” today, as Americans feel the swell of patriotism, in order that we may not forget that if we are Christians, the USA is not our final home and our allegiance is owed to one greater than this country or any country.

 

A King and a KingdomMockingbird

 Appears on: Mockingbird

Lyrics
Who’s your brother, who’s your sister
You just walked past him, I think you missed her
As we’re all migrating to a place where our Father lives
‘Cause we married into a family of immigrants

[Chorus]
So my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country or a man
My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
It’s to a King and a Kingdom

There are two great lies that I’ve heard
The day you eat of the fruit of that tree you will not surely die
And that Jesus Christ was a white, middle class Republican
And if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like him

[Chorus]

And nothing unifies like a common enemy
And we’ve got one sure as hell
He may be living in your house
He may be raising up your kids
He may be sleeping with your wife
Oh he may not look like you think

Frugal Grooveshark Writes Like He’s Unshelved – or – Links!

Today’s links are aimed to make your writing life a bit easier and a bit more fun.

My buddy Bob wrote a guest post this week on Roger Colby’s blog about free tools for the frugal writer. He compiled a great list of resources, so rather than spoil the mystery and tell you what they were, here’s the link so you can find out for yourself.

If you are like me, you like to write (or work, or live) with a bit of music in the background. This link is to a site that provides access to full albums and lots of artists as well as radio stations for your favorite music genre. If you like Pandora, you’ll love Grooveshark, which only asks that you see one ad for every three hours of music, unlike Pandora which puts in an ad every three songs.

Are you fretting that you aren’t going to be the next Shakespeare? Maybe you are! If you haven’t tried out the online tool “I Write Like” yet, do it now. By the way, according to the site, this post so far says I’m the next Arthur Clarke. I could see that.

Lastly, if you love books and humor, you will probably enjoy this web-comic. I stumbled across Unshelved a few years ago, and since working in a bookstore is a lot like working in a library, I found it hilarious. Just don’t spend so long looking at it that you neglect your writing!

How I did this week. Also, fun links!It’s been a little while since I did a report card for myself. So this week, I’m going to give myself a B. I might have done better, but I had to take my laptop in to get fixed, and when it got returned, the keyboard didn’t work. As it happens, the guy who fixed it just forgot to reattach the keyboard cable inside the laptop. Easy fix, but it did mean that I didn’t get to write much on the night I went out to write. I did, however, manage to post everyday on my blog. I even have a new contest going! It is easier than the last one too, so don’t be afraid to try it out.

Thanks for reading!

Video Fun with Rhett & Link

Normally, I put some links up on Friday to awesome blogs or writing-related stuff that I’ve experienced during the week. This week, I just wanted to have a bit of fun.

Meet Rhett & Link.

The videos and lyrics are clean. In fact, these are the same guys that to the songs about the books of the Bible for Phil Vischer’s JellyTelly programming. “Rub Some Bacon On It” is just an all-around wonderful song, and the rest of these are good songs with amazingly edited videos.

Anyway, enjoy the videos below!

I am smooth.

Since I started thinking about my college days again for last week’s post, I thought I’d share another college story.

When I first moved to Kalamazoo in order to attend Western Michigan University, music was something that was still primarily enjoyed by listening to the radio (that makes me feel very old all of the sudden). Illegal file sharing was yet to be made illegal, and the iPod was only a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye. While searching the dial for a station worth listening to, I stumbled across my college’s radio station, WIDR, and instantly fell in love.

WIDR | Radio EvolutionI still get nostalgic for WIDR and many’s the time when I wish that I could get the signal where I live now. All of the DJs were students, long awkward pauses and dead air were not uncommon, and I had never heard of most of the musicians they played, but it all worked. WIDR had the perfect mix of loveable amateurism and exposure to the underground music scene.

But enough of my gushing and on to the story.

I learned where the station was located after being invited to speak about the Valhalla Norwegian Society, of which I was president at the time. As it happened, WIDR’s studio was located in the same building as the registered student organization mailboxes, so in the weeks following the interview, I would stop in at random to say hi to the DJs who interviewed me with whom I had struck up a friendship.

On one such visit, rather than ask if my DJ friends were available, I stepped up to the main desk and said, “I’m here to pick up my prize pack.” Now, there was no prize pack waiting for me, but I thought that on the off chance that I could get a free t-shirt or something, I’d try my luck.

“Prize pack?” said the receptionist. “Did someone call you and tell you that you won something?”

“Um,” I replied. “Well, no.”

“Then, why did you come in?” asked the receptionist, and rightfully so.

“Um,” I replied. “I just wanted to see if I could get something. Maybe a t-shirt or something.”

“Oh,” said the receptionist. “Well, I can’t give you anything.”

“Okay,” I said. “Would you mind telling John that I’m out here then, if he’s not on-air at the moment, I mean.”

“Actually,” said a woman sitting against the wall who I had completely missed, “I was about to go record an interview with John, so he’ll be busy for a little bit.”

“Oh,” I said. “It’s cool. I’ll just check back later.”

“Wait a sec,” said the new woman. “I heard what you were trying to do with the prize pack thing. Clever and ballsy of you. If you wait around until after the interview, I’d love to give you a couple tickets to my show tonight. Maybe you could bring a date.”

I waited. True to her word, this mystery musician put my name down for two tickets to her show that night.  This turn of events gave me sufficient reason to ask out a girl that I’d been interested in a for a few weeks. What a great first date story that would be, I thought (isn’t it funny how we want to make our lives fit into clever story arcs?). To my surprise, the girl agreed and off we went.

The seats were prime. The music was good. My date and I were enjoying ourselves. And then, around the middle of the set, the musician stops and says, “Where’s Josh? I met Josh earlier at the college radio station and he told me that he was going to be on a first date tonight. Josh, are you here?”

I raised my hand. People from all directions stared at me… and my date. I should probably say that the girl that I brought to this event was a shy girl who didn’t like the spotlight.

“How’s the date going so far?”

I looked over at my date. She gave me a thumbs up, but the look on her face was not happy.

“Um, great!” I lied.

“Cool,” she said, and then she finished her show. The first date became the last date, and that was okay. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Afterward, I stopped back into the radio station to thank them for doing the interview with the musician that led to me getting free show tickets. My DJ friends invited me to talk about the evening on the air. I told them that it was a good evening, but that things didn’t work out.

That was when they decided that it would be a fun show segment to have girls call in to the station and go on dates with me (WIDR would be footing the bill) and then I would talk about my experiences the next day. At the time, I thought nothing of being pimped out by my college radio station and thought it would be a fun way to see concerts and such for free.

The promotion never came together however, and now I’m really glad that it didn’t. Now, I’m married to a wonderful woman (a bit on the shy side, I guess I have a type). And though I’m sure that my wife would never have left me when confronted with a spotlight on us, I’m glad that our story started differently.

I love my wife more than old people love racism and talking about diseases.