Grooveshark Signs an Agreement With the Largest Music Publisher In the World…

The lights have been dimming on Grooveshark for years, yet this is a company that now seems more survivalist cockroach than predatory fish.


Despite a nuclear legal attack by all major label groups, Grooveshark is somehow keeping the lights on and forging out-of-court deals.  Just this morning, the company confirmed an amicable pact with Sony/ATV, the largest publisher in the world co-owned by Sony Music Entertainment.

That closely follows an out-of-court agreement with EMI Music Publishing, which would be the second-largest music publisher in the world.  “We are excited to add Sony/ATV Music’s impressive array of songwriters to our catalog, further advancing our mission to empower creators with the best audio platform in the world,” said Grooveshark CEO and cofounder, Sam Tarantino.

The deals seem to absolve a litany of sins related to publishing, including serious accusations of massive non-payments to songwriters.  Yet Tarantino is playing the conciliatory card for all it’s worth.

“Grooveshark currently licenses content from thousands of artists, publishers, labels, and distributors.”

But Grooveshark remains at loggerheads with ‘the rest’ of the music industry.  That of course includes Universal Music Group (UMG), whose multi-year ‘legal jihad’ now involves two raging court battles (US Federal and New York State).  Sony Music and Warner Music Group are also hostile litigants, with EMI Music (the record label part) recently subsumed into UMG.

Grooveshark’s impressive legal bill also includes a long-running battle with yours truly, Digital Music News.  Grooveshark has been attempting to pry information about an anonymous commenter, who asserted all sorts of damning accusations about the company back in 2011.  That case remains on appeal in the State of California.

Image by Anil Jadhav, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

17 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Yves Villeneuve

    Grooveshark can easily stop facilitating the illegal upload of unauthorized content by “users” with very simple programming. I thought it was obvious when I earlier stated I would sue Grooveshark with punitive damages if my music was found on their platform.

    1- Make a list of Licensed Music (artist, song name) available to users.

    2- Users make playlists by selecting songs from the Licensed Music list that will link to a file on the users hard drive for upload.

    3- Filenames are completely hidden while viewing playlists and search results. The Search feature does not scan file names. Only artist, song names and possibly other file properties of Licensed Music that link to downstream and download files appear in Playlists and Search Results.

    • Avatar

      People upload songs with incorrect meta data all the time. It is very easy to change. The only way to ensure correct songs are uploaded/played is to use something like Imeem did, which used audio fingerprinting technology and scan the song itself.

      • Avatar
        Yves Villeneuve

        I don’t believe you understand the simplicity of making sure users cannot search for unauthorized content.

    • Avatar
      Farley Grainger

      It would be great if Grooveshark could be hit with punitive damages because they can easily prevent illegal downloading, but does the infamous copyright statute actually give that remedy? I hope so, but I’d be curious about what a well informed music rights lawyer thinks about it. Evil is not always illegal, but sometimes only wrong.

  2. Avatar

    Call me a cynic, but if the only source for this story is a press release from Grooveshark itself, I would want confirmation. The earlier report about a settlement with EMI has not yet been confirmed – the settlement was allegedly just ‘close’ to being reached.
    Also, I note that in both the EMI case and this one the agreement seems only to be with the publishing arm of the companies. As I understand it, that would not resolve the disputes with the record companies themselves.

  3. Avatar

    I was sure you would overlook this piece of positive news for Grooveshark.
    But I guess you couldnt resist showing us the Roach from under your pillow.
    Sadist hope you enjoyed severing his antenna.
    How did it taste?

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      I didn’t eat the antenna. Grooveshark did. You see, they are their own worst enemy.

    • Avatar

      Not sure this is positive news for Grooveshark. Sounds like the label suits are air tight and the publishers want cash now before the majors force a bankrupcy.

  4. Avatar

    Doesn’t Sony/ATV now own EMI MP? Is EMI still running as their own entity (thus the need for separate deals with both Sony and EMI)?

    • Avatar

      What is truly surprising is the misinformation and miseducation out there in the general marketplace. An article on Business Insider,, which links back to this article on DMN, is completely ill-informed.
      First of all, there are specific legal/licensing reasons why Songza and Pandora are different from Spotify. It’s not even close to an apples to apples comparison, so of course the listening experience is going to be different.
      And then to try and compare Grooveshark with each of these fully licensed (albeit different) services is a joke. Let’s get the facts straight as Grooveshark is offering an on-demand service, i.e. Spotify, Rdio, etc, but at least these guys have finalized licensing agreements. For the most part, every advantage this uninformed writer mentions is based on the simple fact that Grooveshark has been offering an unlicensed service for years.
      Now I’m not suggesting any of these services have figured out an effective business model that works for artists and publishers (in fact I’d say they haven’t), but it’s pretty clear which ones are legal and which are not. And you have to tip your hat to those going down the legal path, and not outright screwing rightsholders.
      Too little too late in my opinion from Grooveshark. And this BI writer should do their homework, before putting forth such a ridiculous article. Even his last statement illustrates his own confirmation of the facts, “Try out Grooveshark as long as it’s still available.”

  5. Avatar

    Interesting that Grooveshark can still afford trolls. Perhaps it’s on the executives’ shoulders now?
    Paul, have you ever been tempted to do an IP address check?

  6. Grooveshark Signs an Agreement With the Largest...

    […] The lights have been dimming on Grooveshark for years, yet this is a company that now seems more survivalist cockroach than predatory fish. Despite a nuclear legal attack by all major label groups, Grooveshark is somehow keeping the lights on and forging out-of-court deals. Just this morning, the company confirmed an amicable pact with Sony/ATV, the largest publisher in the world co-owned by Sony Music Entertainment.  […]