Dear music fans, today we are shutting down Grooveshark
May 3, 2015 2:48 PM   Subscribe

After a years-long court battle with major record labels, Grooveshark, one of the earliest online music streaming services, announced its abrupt shut down with a brief statement on the site's homepage. The fast rise and inevitable fall of Grooveshark.
posted by scribbler (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
weirdly coincidental, because I've just deleted my account a few days ago. Honestly, their web service was riddled with *IN-AUDIO* ads, so I'm not entirely sad.

What IS sad is the crap the RIAA put them through; but that's nothing new.
posted by Grease at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

web developers who put text in an image -- with no alt text even -- are terrible people and i will kill them all
Dear music fans,

Today we are shutting down Grooveshark.

We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.

That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.

As part of a settlement agreement with the major record companies, we have agreed to cease operations immediately, wipe clean all of the record companies' copyrighted works and hand over ownership of this website, our mobile apps and intellectual property, including our patents and copyrights.

At the time of our launch, few music services provided the experience we wanted to offer - and think you deserve. Fortunately, that's no longer the case. There are now hundreds of fan friendly, affordable services available for you to choose from, including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Beats Music, Rhapsody and Rdio, among many others.

If you love music and respect the artists, songwriters and everyone else who makes great music possible, use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders. You can find out more about the many great services available where you live here:

It has been a privilege getting to know so many of you and enjoying great music together. Thank you for being such passionate fans.

Yours in music,
Your friends at Grooveshark
April 30, 2015
posted by a car full of lions at 3:18 PM on May 3, 2015 [14 favorites]

Well that blows.
posted by chavenet at 3:20 PM on May 3, 2015

Gah I should have written down my playlists somewhere.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 3:22 PM on May 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders

"Other rights holders" is a nice euphemism for "parasites."
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:26 PM on May 3, 2015 [19 favorites]

Huh, I never paid attention to the option to make an account, and I've been rather surprised that they survived this long as a US-based entity, when they only had a licensing agreement with EMI, and Merlin to cover some indie labels, when they could have located themselves somewhere and shielded themselves from some legal actions, orat least further delayed it.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:27 PM on May 3, 2015

I'm only surprised that they lasted this long.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:34 PM on May 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


But seriously.....

posted by riverlife at 3:39 PM on May 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

RELATED: Tidal still trying to find its footing. [New York Times]
"Behind Tidal’s celebrity power is a broader concern — common among all artists — that the digital economy is spinning out of control, resulting in a world where technology interests are all-powerful and content is an often cheap and ubiquitous commodity. Yet Tidal’s introduction, analysts and executives say, offers lessons in some of the missteps of marketing in the digital era. One is that no matter how famous the pitchman, the product must have a clear relevance for ordinary customers."
posted by Fizz at 3:43 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your content has gone, far away, to live on a big farm. It is very happy there, much happier than it was on your computer or mobile device.
posted by thelonius at 3:44 PM on May 3, 2015 [19 favorites]

Gah, ditto on the saving playlists! For some reason whenever I found a great song through Pandora, that's where I would note it down. Confound it all. Not that any of this was surprising...

Didn't they also have a version users could pay for, or am I remembering something else? I think it might have been a paid mobile app. I was tempted to try it at some point, but everyone kept reporting that it was incredibly glitchy.
posted by erratic meatsack at 3:56 PM on May 3, 2015

I still find it hard to believe they could be so stupid as to upload things themselves. Fatal mistake.
posted by BentFranklin at 4:02 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gah I should have written down my playlists somewhere.

You can back them up at (Or at least you could yesterday; right now it seems to redirect to for me.)
posted by Rangi at 4:04 PM on May 3, 2015

I get that there are very complex issues here, and that technology-driven change should and will keep coming to the music industry, but… it was a website whose whole point was to let people listen without paying to music that the site's proprietors did not have permission to make available to them.
posted by oliverburkeman at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

I only used it occasionally when I had problems accessing my self-hosted server (a subsonic instance.)

The one thing that I am absolutely pissed about is that they had some things that just are difficult to find, and if they're being sold, I don't think it's first hand - i.e. going to the rights-holders anyways. Basically I see it as abandonware, and it SUCKS that shit that's no longer being published is locked up behind some asshole company who would rather NOT publish it and then sue people for trying to access it, than just giving it to the public as should be the case for the "public good" (which is what copyright was originally for).

Bah humbug.

I'm not surprised, and I'm not heartbroken, necessarily, but I am not happy, and since has gone to shit since CBS, there really aren't that many great services that aren't more corporate-y bullshit. Sure, spotify has a lot of stuff, but it's not like they're paying artists very well, and it's not like you can find super rare stuff there, and it's not like I can have a good quality social network/recommendation engine.

Sorry - I just... It seems like the golden era of digital music has sorta faded in terms of what we can do, and the big guys are slowly going to crush the little ones, yet again. We can keep fighting and we will, but the law is not on our side.

But people like me and others make TONS of free music and share it to soundcloud and other places, so it's not as if we're lacking in places to get good quality free music. It's just that sometimes, some of the published stuff is just hard to find/abandoned, and fuck us for wanting to listen to something we used to have on cassette or something.

posted by symbioid at 4:22 PM on May 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

Spotify is paying at least tho. Once there's true competition (the Apple subscription streaming ITunes thing that's supposedly coming) I bet the publishing houses can renegotiate. To charge even less probably 👱
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:26 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

@oliverburkeman, you're missing the point: DMCA has a safe harbour for services such as Grooveshark, so as long as they honor DMCA requests - which they did. Even if they didn't get every, each one, either the claim/report wasn't viable enough, or maybe because of the fact that they're only human, after all.

If they, the team's uploaded something, and no one reports it, it's legally defensible by DMCA. They provide the platform, but by doing this, the staff is acting as a user, not an administrator, ergo the same safe harbor applies. Now, if they didn't take down after a request, and/or knowing fully well that it infringes, that's another case; but they haven't proven they willingly knew it was infringing.
posted by Grease at 4:37 PM on May 3, 2015

Groovebackup does not seem to be working anymore. Damn you robots.txt, I thought the internet archive could have helped out with an older instance of the site but nope. If anyone thinks of any other way to access the playlists to write them down, let me know!
posted by Hazelsmrf at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2015

On behalf of "parasites" everywhere, boo hoo poor grooveshark.
posted by spitbull at 4:46 PM on May 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Grooveshark I can live without -- but Slicing Up Eyeballs? No-o-o-o-o-o-o!
posted by saintjoe at 5:51 PM on May 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

The thought definitely faded into the back of my mind over the years, but after my friend showed me Grooveshark for the first time my immediate impression was:

1. This is amazing.
2. This can't last.
posted by EatTheWeek at 5:56 PM on May 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

Back to YouTube, I guess...
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:52 PM on May 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

They had guts.

posted by oceanjesse at 7:06 PM on May 3, 2015

Someone just invited me to pay $10 a month to subscribe to a single record label's feed. I don't know how that works, I don't care how it works, I'm not doing it. I throw a lot of the paid services in there. The only one I like and actually willingly pay for is garageband.

Grooveshark was amazing. The "Golden Age Hip Hop" channel was the soundtrack of my childhood. But yeah, it couldn't have lasted.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:07 PM on May 3, 2015

I'm hopeful Apple can take the already-decent Beats and square this streaming music circle.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:53 PM on May 3, 2015

They had chutzpah, anyway.

You are always free to make and post your own music. Now that takes guts.
posted by spitbull at 8:28 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Now, if they didn't take down after a request, and/or knowing fully well that it infringes, that's another case; but they haven't proven they willingly knew it was infringing.

I mean, their entire business plan was "Fuck the Police RIAA!"
posted by sideshow at 8:38 PM on May 3, 2015

Not only echoing the agony of lost playlists... but i had a pro account. A grandfathered in one. So it was only $3 a month, but it just autocharges me...

How the fuck do i get it to stop? It just charged me again! And this is a debit card, not a credit card, so it's not like i can easily just dispute it that way. Debit cards are for the most part "tough shit bub" when you call the bank.

I mean, i know i'm not going to get my $3 back right now but... what the fuck do i do? Am i just sending funds in to /dev/null for months?
posted by emptythought at 11:42 PM on May 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

"I mean, their entire business plan was "Fuck the Police RIAA!""

Wait, I thought they were the one that let you upload your own music (that you had nominally bought) then stream it anywhere. Was that someone else?

(I wonder how hard it would be to DIY something that would let me stream my music anywhere. When I looked a couple years ago, it seemed like it was beyond me…)
posted by klangklangston at 12:31 AM on May 4, 2015

klang, check out Google Music.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 AM on May 4, 2015

Am I just sending funds into /dev/null

Is this a (stealth) manifestation of quantum diseasing? This is some heinous shit here.
posted by riverlife at 1:02 AM on May 4, 2015

I'd barely heard of Grooveshark (from Slashdot maybe), but Slicing Up Eyeballs was great.

I hope they're paling around with AudioGalaxy.
posted by Mezentian at 4:06 AM on May 4, 2015

They did let you upload music for a while. As a result of this, there was a bunch of stuff on there that only exists on youtube or nowhere else in like 240/360p with awful audio quality. Some of this was stuff i literally couldn't even BUY, or where the only option to purchase it was physical media, and at like $50+ used on amazon marketplace.

I had playlists of stuff that had only come out on vinyl or out of print reissue box sets, weirdass obscure albums that itunes or spotify will never have, etc. This was all facilitated, youtube style, by user uploads.

Eventually, as i remember, the facility to upload became a bit more restricted but for the longest time it was just wide open.

Wikipedia doesn't describe the timeline all that well, but grooveshark came out, at least as the in browser/app based streaming service we all remember, in 2008. Streaming music had barely gotten going. Hype machine sort of worked that way by letting you search and play MP3s that had been posted on blogs in browser without downloading, but it was mostly still buy/torrent/rip stuff and put it on your ipod as far as listening to music went.

Grooveshark basically immediately had an iphone app. Then it got pulled, and it cameback as a jailbreak only thing which made it feel even cooler to use. I'd show up at a friends house and put on a playlist and they'd go "woah, what's that?".

I quickly started building monster playlists to various genres/themes. Friends would share one account so that everyone could add to specific playlists and check on them. People started doing monthly playlists. It really seemed like it was going to take off and be the platform for this kind of stuff. And everyone wanted to use it because it had everything. When they started charging for mobile it seemed like a no brainer. This was The Service.

Eventually though, it started to fill with shit. A search for any given song would find a bunch of garbage out of 200 results instead of just 3-4 like it used to. Certain searches found nothing because of DMCA claims. Deep linking to specific tracks started to fuck up, and the link format kept changing. The app started to consistently be broken, and the html5 site never quite worked 100% correctly. It was really sad to watch it start to feel sort of abandoned.

And i will forever think it's weird that spotify took off as a fucking app even on the desktop when what made grooveshark great was moving away from the app and just making it a site. And spotify is a shitty app too! Groovesharks build a playlists along the bottom interface stomped the shit out of any other "up next" type interface i've used, and was perfect for a bunch of drunk/stoned idiots at a party trying to play songs without cutting eachother off. I LOVED that it defaulted to cue and not play as the default action.

Grooveshark was just a good interface for listening to lots of music. Spotify et al are good for playing a couple songs, or just putting an album on(...sometimes, i've had it shit that up). Grooveshark was just automatically an on the go playlist/up next type setup. You never accidentally cut off what was already playing, and it was easy to drag-and-drop reorder stuff.

The other big RIP in peace thing for me, as far as early college internetting goes, is mediafire and megaupload. For maybe a couple years you could just google "artistname albumname mediafire" or "artistname tracktitle mediafire" and the first freaking link would be it. It was usually even 320k, or you could add "320" and get it basically every time. We'd spend entire days just laying around on the floor in front of my double stacks of gigantic studio monitors browsing stupid blog posts, playing tracks, then running those searches. If it was exceptionally good you'd go back and download the whole album.
posted by emptythought at 4:18 AM on May 4, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'm hopeful Apple can take the already-decent Beats and square this streaming music circle.
Looks like they are using their influence to kill off competing music access options to make that happen.
posted by Poldo at 6:32 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

emptythought: Grooveshark ... perfect for a bunch of drunk/stoned idiots at a party trying to play songs without cutting eachother off. I LOVED that it defaulted to cue and not play as the default action.

This really was great. It was pretty amazing, the first time my friend threw on Grooveshark like that and let people add whatever they could find to the queue.

I had forgotten how recently I used Grooveshark. I had used Rhapsody circa 2005 but it never stuck with me because I wasn't at my computer that much. The feature Grooveshark added that hooked me was mobile. Being able to stream from my phone and off-line music onto my phone doomed my iPod to the dustbin.

Or, well, it did once Spotify showed up doing it all better. I liked Grooveshark but it was a mess. Yeah, there was some weird stuff there but so much of it was poorly labeled and incomplete or duplicated. Spotify means that I can listen to full releases (at least more than with GS) that I can find.

Grooveshark did have some easier and better controls... but just yesterday with Spotify I was using my computer to control the music streaming to my stereo through an old phone, adding songs dynamically. Double-clicking fucks everything up but you can still drag and drop.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:13 AM on May 4, 2015

@Noisy Pink Bubbles, what about VK audio? No ads (not that I get them on YouTube, either), and less restrictions, since it's in Russia.
posted by Grease at 10:49 AM on May 4, 2015

Mystery person puts shuttered music site Grooveshark back online
Less than a week after music-streaming service Grooveshark shut down, the site has been wholly reconstituted, brought back to life by an individual "connected to the original Grooveshark," according to a BGR report.

The mystery man, who identified himself only as "Shark," said that he saved most of the Florida-based website before it was taken down on Thursday. Now he's put the site, which was sued by record companies in 2011, back up at a new domain: [...]

The new site's strategy may simply be to avoid the jurisdiction of US courts. A whois search shows that the site is registered in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, to a person named "Vita Tkach."
posted by Rhaomi at 4:33 PM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

It just ain't the same without the playlists...
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:27 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a lot of favorite "deejays" who ran stations on Grooveshark.

That's what I will miss the most. I want exposure to relevant music in the genres I tune to. Other people's playlists. Not mine.

Which music service is best for that now? I'm NOT talking about teeny-bopper playlist sharing, or corporate playlist sharing. I'm talking about the dedicated music lovers who put together stations in funk, folk, nufolk, etc. where you wouldn't hear the same song for days.
posted by surplus at 5:29 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think there are some decent Spotify playlists out there that people update, but they are hard to find in the masses of duplicative junk. I particularly like playlists that have new music/new artists that I wouldn't otherwise hear.

I've been enjoying this one the last few days - newish alt-rock/indie/whatever.

I've been meaning to listen to this KCRW playlist from Morning Becomes Eclectic, which seems to be updated regularly.

I used to really like Sean Parker's Hipster International for this reason - I would skip 50% of the songs but I learned some new songs/artists that were great. Annoying that he has stopped updating. Like he has better things to do or something.
posted by Mid at 7:39 AM on May 9, 2015

This doesn't have the support or reach of a Sean Parker but for the past few years I have been hosting a yearly new music collaborative playlist on Spotify that friends add to when they come across something good. The 2015 playlist is currently 85 songs, with contributions from 9 different people. I rarely listen to this playlist straight-through (or any of my playlists, really) but I'll listen to everything that gets added and have found some great stuff that way.

URI: spotify:user:1236893927:playlist:7oqwQsPLuQODnXDIogPqlq

I guess one reason I have really appreciated Spotify is that my friends/followers (and I) like to explore genres and eras, and put together playlists reflecting/supporting that.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:43 AM on May 9, 2015

And, just to be explicit about it, that was an invitation to check out/follow/contribute to the collaborative playlist.

I tend to treat Spotify following very casually; I like that it isn't about chatting and comments and likes but about playlists and listening to music. And that neither playlists nor your music scroll have to be public. I know I have followed a number of MeFites that have linked to interesting playlists; there's little like people you don't really know for finding something good to listen to!
posted by mountmccabe at 9:54 AM on May 9, 2015

This thread just made me realize, going through a ton of old bookmarks i found from 08/09/10(and i think even some from 07 woahh) that is also gone.

That site, which got bought up by twitch, was basically the grooveshark equivalent for video streaming. There were 24/7 channels of just 90s nick cartoons, or specific tv shows, or the content of various tv stations in X time period(sometimes including commercials!) or playlists of movies/shows, and all kinds of other stuff. There were some REALLY good channels, and i found a bunch of cool shit because of that.

And you could just turn it on like TV and just let it stream. It wasn't on demand, it was more like shoutcast radio. It was nice when you wanted something ostensibly good to play but didn't want to spend a half hour picking what you wanted to watch.

And then twitch killed it. Which i mean, it makes sense, it was a nightmare of piracy and general IP violations in the same way grooveshark was... but i'll really miss it.

I think it even got as far as having a roku app, heh. There was definitely an iOS app, and i remember watching lots of like... rockos modern life and U.F.O. in bed on my iphone.

Which music service is best for that now? I'm NOT talking about teeny-bopper playlist sharing, or corporate playlist sharing. I'm talking about the dedicated music lovers who put together stations in funk, folk, nufolk, etc. where you wouldn't hear the same song for days.

Honestly i've scratched this itch mostly with soundcloud mixes. The problem is that there isn't the spread of genres grooveshark had with that. Funk is there, but everything else is hit or miss. There ARE some rock/folk mixtapes by people who make good mixes i've seen... but there just isn'd the breadth grooveshark had.

It's also a higher barrier to entry, since you need to mix the mix, dj style, rather than just making a playlists of songs.

There really isn't a drop-in replacement.
posted by emptythought at 12:41 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks, emptythought. I'll give a try. Looks like it has the most user-defined stations.
posted by surplus at 8:22 PM on May 11, 2015

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