Grooveshark CEO: ‘I’m Broke. I’m Literally Broke…’

The situation at Grooveshark may be more desperate than we originally thought.  In a just-published piece in Mashable, CEO Sam Tarantino detailed a fairly brutal situation at the company, one that involves heavy layoffs, a scrappy reduction in office space, and survival salaries.

“We all don’t get paid a lot,” Tarantino flatly admitted.

“I can speak for myself: I am literally broke. I am like literally broke and I am trying to lower my rent.”

Of course, ‘broke’ generally translates to ‘no money,’ though Tarantino still pulls a modest $60,000 annual salary (according to the interview).  So maybe it’s all relative: $60,000 is great for a working musician, but ‘broke’ by Tarantino’s standards.  But the bigger story at Grooveshark is looking bleak: Tarantino chopped his staff from 145 to 60 last year, and winnowed the office space to small operations in New York and ‘a cheap town in Florida’ (ie, Gainesville).

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The tale of penury contrasts sharply with an extremely expensive legal defense.  That includes an ongoing attack on Digital Music News: earlier this month, Grooveshark shuttled attorney John Rosenberg to conduct a deposition against DMN in Washington, DC, with thousands in billable hours for the one-day affair.

That pales in comparison to expenses spent fighting all three major labels.  According to one research report, these types of major label legal battles ramp towards $150,000 a month; all part of a legal war of attrition that could be won on the finances — not the merits.

Image: Josh Bonnain, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

26 Responses

  1. Visitor

    I think you may have missed the point of the article…

    But since you didn’t provide a link:

    • Ghost of Rick Ross

      Mashable tries to do a happy ending, but dis ain’t Hollywood folks.

      • Paul Resnikoff

        Ghost of Rick Ross, I’ll have to agree with you on this one. I think Mashable may have created a storytelling narrative that doesn’t quite exist. The piece ends on a high note that includes Sam Tarantino pointing to thawing major label relationships, among other things. Yet, the majors are still suing aggressively, so I’m not sure what to make of that (perhaps there’s more information on that I’ll learn). This may be the ol’ “Hollywood Ending” as you suggest.

        • Visitorial

          Mashable has never – not ever – written a single solitary article about the music or music tech space which hasn’t been full on fan fiction, a reproduced press release or completely devoid of industry knowledge.

          Frustrating to think some of these newbie hacks are even reading mashable.

    • Visitor

      “Survivial Salries” … it’s more than the musicians are getting paid.

    • FarePlay

      Visitor #1

      Thank you for providing the link to the Grooveshark/Mashable “Interview”. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t support your case.

      “On Monday, Grooveshark unveiled its latest big update — user-generated radio stations — which may take it from recovery mode to growth mode. The new feature, which it calls Broadcast, lets users transform a playlist into a live broadcast with the click of a button.” Mashable.

      As unsustainable as the payouts from Spotify and Pandora are for musicians, bands and songwriters; at least these entities had the where-with-all to legitimize their business. What you are proposing with your “broadcast” feature is to create a distribution platform that further disseminates and pushes out artists’ content without structured compensation.

      And you wonder why we come after you..


    My cigar really compliments my necklace choice. So slick.

  3. Pauls Nemisis

    Paul its well known in the music circles that you have an axe to grind with Tarantino. Grooveshark is on its way up.

  4. Visitor

    Funny that every article I read on REPUTABLE industry news sites had a positive response…was wondering when Paul was gonna bite back with a gossip piece.

    the personal vendetta is getting a little old.

  5. Visitor

    All the other stories did have a positive twist. But, how can they launch a new interactive radio broadcast and still not have any licenses? If the labels are still out for blood, it seems like this new product would give more ammunition to show willful and knowing infringement.

    Turntable FM did the same thing with a very similar product, but then got funded by a reputable VC and immediatly started talks to make nice with the labels. Bottom line was turntable had good intentions and made a naive mistake and then paid $ for their mistake. Grooveshark is 7 years old and must have had a number of chances to do the right thing by the content owners. I find it hard to believe the bit in the mashable story about the labels finally coming around to their side. But Grooveshark isn’t dead yet, and that must be in large part to the label’s lack of will or incompetence. Where’s the journalism on that point?

  6. Jeff Robinson

    It’s really tough to create an economy around ‘free’ and ‘stealing’.

    How the hell did they get any funding at all?

  7. lol

    time to stop clinging to old business models
    sell merch & play live


    • lol

      Enjoy your Ramen! Cheapest I’ve seen is $.19 cents a pack at Ralphs. There is no business model now!

      The hobbyists have won!

    • Visitor

      “time to stop clinging to old business models”

      Yup, nobody likes pirates anymore — let them sell t-shirts.

  8. Jimmy Valdez

    Great article Paul but the folks over at Grooveshark probably still make more than you do for this crusty blog.

  9. Jason Miles

    Thos kids in the picture anre the same ones that followed my after a show in Gainsville Florida that wanyed me to be a part pf Grooveshark and help the company. They were nice guys. For awhile it was cool but when I met the first of their VC guys I know this is the road to the bottom. I haven’t spoken to Sam in 3 years but I can just say Karma is a bitch and the VC streets aren’t paved with Gold. He’s not even 30 yet so He has alot of life ahead of him to correct his karma and find the right path. is that possible-I don’t know-Once you are corporatly poisened it’s hard to come back

    Peace, jason

  10. GittesPrivateEye

    I really, really, really, wish I believed him…

    This POS and his co-conspirators deserve to be “broke, literally broke”.