Just a few days ago, music listening service Grooveshark shut down completely, after almost 10 years. The company issued a statement on its home page addressing the issue, owning up to its faults, and apologizing to music fans.


The plans for Grooveshark began in 2006 when three undergraduates, including CEO Sam Tarantino, formulated the idea to make a music streaming service that was as simple as searching for YouTube videos. Tarantino ran with this new and exciting venture, committed to it completely, and dropped out of school. By 2009, Grooveshark gained popularity and even raked in earnings from advertising revenue.


In this spotlight, however, major record labels took notice of this free service and came after the company with lawsuits based on copyright infringement. British record label, EMI, was among the first to sue the company.


Outside of the settlement, a licensing agreement was drawn, putting the app in a more uplifting light. Unfortunately, the positivity didn’t last long for Grooveshark. The following year, they saw another lawsuit. This time, it was from Universal Music Group (UMG), who alleged that illegal copies of songs owned by UMG were offered on the site.


Both Apple and Android Market saw Grooveshark as a service with too much baggage, such as the copyright claims, and refused to offer the application in their respective stores. Despite these obstacles, Tarantino continued to strive for success.


Screenshot of Grooveshark search interface

Grooveshark music streaming service closed down last week after nearly 10 years. (orangwutang.com)

In 2010, the company broke even and expanded. Offices were opened in Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles, California, to start and eventually the company would grow internationally. The site went through several interface changes throughout the years, adding miniscule features that matched the features of its competitors. It continued to stay strong in the market, regardless of complaints by major record labels.


By the end of 2011, though, the cards stopped being dealt in Grooveshark’s favor. Universal came back with another lawsuit arguing ownership of thousands of recordings uploaded by employees. Sony and Warner Music Groups joined this case and sparked a chain of misfortune.


To compensate with financial losses from court and other damages, Tarantino issued massive layoffs in 2012, so he could afford to offer a portion of his staff a decent paycheck. The Denver and Los Angeles offices were closed, and any plans moving across seas ceased to continue.


Facebook even dropped the company, based on a complaint of non-licensed material. EMI, the only label to give rights to Grooveshark, went back on the deal after not being paid the promised amount of royalties.


Girl listening to music on her headphones

Although we say goodbye to Grooveshark, they remind us of the many music streaming platforms available now.

With this many strikes against one company, it is no wonder it did not shut down sooner. On September 4, 2014, a ruling was issued on the suit including Universal, Sony and Warner Music Groups. Major record labels had the favor, and within the next eight months, Grooveshark ceased to exist.


Signed “Your friend at Grooveshark,” a goodbye statement was released on April 30, via the site’s home page. The company admits to its fans and listeners what went wrong with the company and said that the immediate shutdown was part of the settlement agreement.  Intellectual property would be handed over, and the letter even turned fans to its competitors in the music streaming business:

“There are now hundreds of fan friendly, affordable services available for you to choose from, including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Beats Music, Rhapsody and Rdio, among many others.  If you love music and respect the artists, songwriters and everyone else who makes great music possible, use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders.”


Without Grooveshark, the music community is down less one member, in a very crowded marketplace for streaming music. Record labels can rest assured that the company won’t be uploading anything illegal to its servers anymore and can continue supporting the art. This story is an inspiring one, as well, to anyone excited about his or her next money-making venture. It inspires people to ensure that their ideas are executed in a respected and legal manner to avoid angering the head honchos of the industry.


It is also a lesson to all other music streaming sites to be extra careful. This loss won’t cause a dip in the market, and more applications with similar goals will continue to surface.


Rest in peace, Grooveshark.


Were you a Grooveshark user? What do you think of the demise of the company? Let’s talk here, or find me on Twitter @antoinette_8a