Grooveshark has joined the ranks of those who've decided to work outside of the restrictive app store rules and just create their own web-based-app instead. If freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose, then Grooveshark might actually turn their recent run-in with the Google Play app store into a win. The new Grooveshark app has been created in the ultra-up-to-date HTML5, meaning that you can use it anywhere, anytime on any device (even iPhone and iPad).
We've all been trained/socialized to go to either Google or Apple to get apps, but those environments are there to benefit Google and Apple, not the people who want to develop apps or the people who want to use them. To use the new Grooveshark app, just go to their web site, at www.grooveshark.com, no download required.
It's only the beginning, according to Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino, who previewed their view of the future for us like this: "We have a whole new spin on Grooveshark coming in the next few months. We can't say more, but suffice it to say that the biggest change to Grooveshark since we launched the original product in 2009 is coming."
When asked what it was like to be free of third-party entanglements, he said "It's good and bad operating under our "own" rules. We have been trying to and strive to cut a deal with the labels that works to keep both parties in business and thriving. We want to partner with the labels to transform the music industry into something better, more innovative."
This all follows on the heels of the Grooveshark being approved, then unapproved by the Google Play app store, which affects Android devices. When asked why they were rejected, Sam Tarantino said "We don't know what Google's reasons are for denying us when they themselves rely on the very DMCA procedures and law in which we operate."
Not that the Grooveshark story is as simple as that. Before the Google run-in there were multiple lawsuits, and a mix of reactions across the web, from the site Digital Music News to their ongoing lawsuit with EMI on the one hand and the other 3 major labels in a separate lawsuit.
"Up until now the major labels haven't given us the chance to work together. Many deals that were cut between 2001 and now have put the startups out of business, so it's important to us to find a deal with the right economics. We hope to do a joint venture in the near future because we know that by combining Grooveshark's resources with the major label's resources would present endless opportunities for any and all artists," said Sam Tarantino.
Paul Resnikoff at Digital Music News was drawn into this fight when he ran a story that proposed the idea that Grooveshark staffers were uploading music rather than it being user-generated. This would completely change the notion of violating DMCA safe harbor provisions.
It came about because of anonymous comments received by Digital Music news that were posted to the site. This lead to Paul's involvement in the battle, one that included him in the court proceedings. Paul told Spacelab that Grooveshark and their attorney John Rosenberg have "a suspicion that Digital Music News is cooperating in some sort of conspiracy against Grooveshark and its parent, Escape Media Group. These allegations are ridiculous, but are probably fueling some of this attack mentality and have led us to believe that this is bigger than just a search for a commenters' IP address."
Paul went on to say "After faced with rather minimal expenses to prepare for a thorough forensic search - if approved - Grooveshark decided to substantially scale back their subpoena request. In other words, once the cost of this subpoena started to increase - even by a small amount in a preparation phase - the company started to lose interest."
So they story of Grooveshark is a complicated one. The idea of a streaming music service being sued isn't exactly controversial, but it does complicate the ongoing evolution of online music for the rest of us. Nobody wants to give up turf on copyrights, royalties or the ability to innovate. Which leaves us stuck while patent lawsuits like Apple vs the world and major recording labels vs most who want to license their music leaves us standing still. It still feels like we're in the third inning of this ball game. At least for now, Grooveshark is still operating and fighting the tide.