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).
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?