Talking tech since 2003

Since its launch, Grooveshark has been a not-quite-legal source of free streaming music. You see, Grooveshark operates much like YouTube does, allowing users to upload content without reviewing that content for copyright. And though record companies have been vigilant in sending takedown notices to Grooveshark, the volume of songs being uploaded makes it tough to keep up.

groovesharkBecause the company isn’t actively searching out copyrighted material, and copyright owners can’t send takedown notices fast enough, Grooveshark winds up playing host to an enormous library of copyrighted material from pretty much every major record label. This fact has landed the company in court with a few of the labels, including Universal, EMI and Sony. Grooveshark reached an agreement with EMI earlier this month and has now reached an agreement with Sony, putting another lawsuit behind it.

The agreement, reported on in this post from Torrent Freak, makes the entire Sony/ATV catalogue available through Grooveshark. Sony is an enormous player in the music industry — in terms of revenue, Sony has 30% of the market. When you combine that with EMI’s 20%, Grooveshark now has half of the major label market signed up for streaming through its platform.

The Grooveshark service is a lot like another popular streaming service, Spotify. While Grooveshark has no desktop application, it is available through a Web app and is free with ads. If you’re willing to pay $9 a month — a buck cheaper than Spotify — you’re able to lose the ads and also gain the ability to listen to Grooveshark on a mobile device.

But mobile is where things get hairy. Back when Grooveshark was a shadier business, the Grooveshark app was blocked from entry into Apple’s App Store. It was accepted, and then kicked out of, Google’s app store, Google Play. Because Android users can install apps outside of the Play store, these users can still make use of Grooveshark’s mobile app. But iPhone users are out of luck (unless their iPhone is jailbroken), and it’s hard to see that changing as long as Grooveshark has any kind of legal issues hanging over its head.

Reaching an agreement with Sony is a step in the right direction, though, especially after doing so with EMI. These are the top two labels in the industry and, now that Grooveshark doesn’t have to fear them anymore, it can spend less time in court and more time trying to compete in a world where Spotify and Pandora rule and major companies like Google and Apple are showing up to compete.

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