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.
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.