Getting Screwed by Grooveshark? Don’t Worry, They’re Adding a Tip Jar

And so the confusing and contradictory mess known as Grooveshark soldiers on.

The Eagles and King Crimson would love to see this house burn to the ground; the major labels are actively pouring gasoline and lighting matches!  But for all the vilification, Grooveshark spends just as much energy returning fire, and that includes efforts to forge content relationships and paint themselves as progressive and ‘artist friendly’.

Like this.  Ahead of a November launch, Grooveshark is previewing a brand-new update, one that includes greater discovery, sharing and content categorization, but also the perfectly condescending ‘virtual tip jar’.  The tack-on allows users to contribute money directly to their favorite artists, right through the Grooveshark app.

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There are a few gigantic catches to all of this.  One is that artists need to claim their accounts on Flattr, which means they also need know this exists (ask SoundExchange about that one).  The second is that this is Grooveshark, a company not exactly synonymous with perfect transparency.  On top of all that, previous experiments in voluntary tipping have mostly flopped, especially among audiences that arrive at a site expecting to pay nothing.

But wait: wouldn’t paying artists through established licenses and ad-revenue-sharing be the more straight-ahead approach?  Grooveshark claims to be the audio equivalent to YouTube, though that’s not necessarily the most flattering comparison.  Both thrive on exploitative DMCA takedown structures, which satisfy legal requirements but hardly qualify as ‘artist friendly’.

Then there’s the uglier side.  Beyond the DMCA, sharp critics like ex-Tunecore CEO Jeff Price have unearthed a dogged reluctance at Grooveshark to pay proper (and required) licenses like mechanicals, and bands like King Crimson have exposed a horrific game of double-speak and subterfuge.  Indeed, Grooveshark executives like Paul Geller – a central figure in both of those situations – seem almost neurotically slippery.  But the cast seems to be shifting (or leaving): Geller recently departed Grooveshark’s Gainesville headquarters for New York, though one source noted that the executive is still employed at the company.  Others are simply taking a walk.

19 Responses

  1. Easy way to shut down the Shar

    shut down Grooveshark is easy:

    target their revenue source, which is ad revenue

    the labels and their artists just need to organize a boycott of certain advertisers. Thousands of people sending email saying, I won’t buy your products anymore because you are funding an illegal organization that pay zero royalties to my favorite artists.

    Imagine the like of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Beyonce tweeting:

    These companies are supporting Grooveshark who is paying zero royalties for music: ____, ______, ______, _____ etc. Here are their email addresses:

    Their hardcore fans will take actions.

    • Joda

      There’s a lot of advertisers (most) that really wouldn’t give a damn about a boycott.

    • SecondLeft

      Jeff Price and David Lowery tried. I think half the time the advertiser has no idea they’re on the site to begin with.

  2. a

    they care about negative PR though

    Would you as a brand want to be associate with something that pay zero royalties to artists?

  3. Jason

    Grooveshark is basically dying.

    Lawyers are gutting them clean, even though they know it’s hopeless cause.

  4. Maybach Music

    The number one killer of Grooveshark is the top executives it’s a kids table. The second killer is the lawyers, the third Spotify. I could go on and on.

  5. Ms. Poon

    Grooveshark is NOT at all artist-friendly. I know I’m preaching to the choir in this forum, but I’ll go on record for the first time about this:

    One of our artist-owned independent labels, with 50 releases out to date, offered Grooveshark a licensing deal and Grooveshark REFUSED. So we continue to monitor their crappy site and repeatedly send DMCA notifications.

    Grooveshark employees have indicated that they can provide reporting for streams for this label, but Grooveshark’s lawyer won’t allow us to receive that reporting. So we have no way to know how much of our IP they’ve been using to sell ads on their site.

    I have spent time contacting Grooveshark’s advertisers and will continue to do so.

    Grooveshark is rape cancer to independent artists, and they know it!

  6. Jason Miles

    If GrooveShark goes under their Karma will be coming back to them and I will shed no tears


    • what?

      …because baristas are subhumans (far below the likes of artists) that can’t make a living.. right..

      • Mr. Pink

        I am sure baristas are perfectly nice people, but at least the musician on the street passes the hat after performance.

        Baristas are members of a special group that ask for the tip before performance of the task. In other businesses/social transactions this is called a bribe, buyoff, grease, influence pedling etc.

        Have you ever had the barista screw up your order or forget to even start the task? and after they f up your order do they offer to return your “tip”?

        AND yes I never tip baristas or anyone else who asks for the tip before performing the task.

        • what?

          ..because cultural influence on exchange is finite and universal.. right..

  7. rick

    yeah paul …. your personal axe to grind is so ultra-transparent in each and every transparent Grooveshark article. If you can’t be at least neutrally journalistic, don’t write anything at all. It’s way past boring.

    • CQ

      Grooveshark? Bunch of dirty crooks. I clap for the only one with the guts to take them on.

  8. nuniruro

    Love reading news about Grooveshark. Quite polarizing site.

  9. Steve

    Because if you can’t trust someone named Ms. Poon, who can you trust?

    Although you should get points for creating the phrase “rape cancer”.

  10. butipay

    What’s the better, legal, artist friendly alternative? Grooveshark has an incredible library and streams hassle free in a browser. Best radio algo by far. Almost a a complete music solution. It makes me so happy I’m paying for it. I’d even pay more. And want to tip artists. But what I hear about their behavior is disturbing.