Maybe it’s hard to make love and war at the same time. Late last year, we published a list of 865 different Grooveshark label partners, as prepared and shared by the company itself. The only problem is that several of these labels immediately demanded a removal from this list, and Grooveshark itself soon requested that the entire story be deleted. Of particular concern, according to one Grooveshark executive, was indie consortium Merlin, whose president Charles Caldas was disinterested in having his member labels posted.
Here, have a look. Maybe you’re on it.
Others, like EMI, forcibly removed themselves in other ways (ie, massive lawsuits). And for those still working with the company, membership has complicated benefits. Which is why it’s unsurprising that Grooveshark has only added 10 smaller indie label partners this year, according to information disclosed by the company.
We have no idea how many have jumped shipped in that time, but we’re guessing the number is much greater than ten. Indeed, the company now claims that label partners are ‘in the hundreds,’ which suggests a drastic chop from something approaching 1,000 last Christmas.
The 2012 additions (since January 1st) are Warrior Records, 1320 Records, Bang Gang Records, Duckhead Green, Palaver Records, Amplifi Digital, Accendo Media, Dox Records, and Eponymous Entertainment, all of whom are banking on heavy Grooveshark traffic and exposure. Frankly, that may be all that matters to these smaller partners, especially in such an attention-starved fan atmosphere.
Others may be uncomfortable with issues of artist-unfriendliness and very serious legal accusations related to content infringement and non-payments. Indeed, one artist recently laughed when we asked him about Grooveshark royalties (answer = ‘$0.00’), and others like King Crimson and The Eagles have taken their issues public. More recently, an extremely combative Tunecore CEO Jeff Price exposed the company for skipping mechanical royalty payments, while National Music Publishers’ Assocation president David Israelite opened the possibility of future legal action.
The question is whether all of this is creating an icy, unfriendly climate for potential partners – on all levels. We’ve certainly seen the very ruthless, dark side to this company, though problems may also be happening on the consumer side as well. Which brings us to Spotify, a company with fewer artist and label issues and a lot more adults in its chairs. And Spotify seems to be dragging Grooveshark’s traffic southward since entering the US last summer, thanks to continued free access, a cleaner collection, continued innovation around apps, and far better mobile access.