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This product has been dis-continued by Grooveshark.
Technology should make our lives easier
• Completely free streaming
• No streaming limits
• Good audio quality
• Great social networking features
• No download function
• Duplicate track entries
• No offline mode
With completely free streaming online, if you’re looking for a jukebox style music sharing site you won’t go wrong with Grooveshark. No-frills and packed with ads, Grooveshark isn’t the most sophisticated-looking site but it does what it sets out to do – provide you with free music on demand.
Into the music sharing ocean swims Grooveshark, a web-based music player that promises a jukebox-like service with bite. Grooveshark was developed by undergraduates from the University of Florida who wanted to allow users to make money by selling their music collection online to other listeners – selling used CDs in the digital realm. Sales no longer form part of the Grooveshark experience. Grooveshark is now part music streaming service and part peer-to-peer file sharing.
Grooveshark is legal and keeps out of the law courts by securing the distribution rights for its online music from the copyright holders. The site operates throughout the world.
Grooveshark is free – you can stream music and save playlists without paying anything for a subscription. You can search for music from the homepage and create playlists without even signing in but if you want to save your playlists you need to sign up for an account.
When you first hit the homepage you are presented with a simple overview of the site, with arrows pointing to the features such as the search bar and the community icon.
Adverts on the free service are everywhere, popping up behind your search and surrounding the music player. However, they are visual and therefore you won’t notice them if you are listening with the player in the background.
You can upgrade your account to a Grooveshark Plus or Grooveshark Anywhere account for a small monthly subscription fee (at the time of writing $6 and $9 a month.) Both offer no ads and a variety of benefits. With Plus you can customize the look of the site and use a Grooveshark desktop app. Anywhere gives you roaming privileges.
Grooveshark is an on-demand service which also offers a jukebox radio function. You search for tracks and play them from a web-based player that looks like your own media player. When you search for music from the centralized search box you add the tracks you find to the Now Playing stream at the bottom of your page. Or you can choose a musical genre and stream music radio-style. The site covers a large base, including music from all kinds of genres like world music and electronica.
When you upload tracks you stream them to others and when you listen, you are listening to other users’ uploaded files. This means that the track names are not necessarily uniform and there are a number of duplicates for each song.
Grooveshark streams at a maximum of 128 kbps and if two people upload the same song the one with the higher quality is streamed by Grooveshark. Quality can vary across tracks, and it’s not as good as Spotify.
If you’re running short on musical inspiration, discover new bands and artists by clicking the Radio function on. When you highlight a track in your stream, the Radio function automatically generates a new track based on what you’re listening to. You can “dislike” an artist to clear them from your options.
Grooveshark allows you to upload your music collection to the site so you can listen to your tracks from any computer with an Internet connection. You can rewind songs, shuffle songs in your playlists, listen to them over and over again on a loop, or delete them from your playlist. However, you can’t upload songs purchased from iTunes.
The playlist creation system is a little clunky – you can’t drag and drop songs and it takes a few clicks to get the track in your chosen playlist. And there are no musician biographies or band pages like on Spotify, which is a shame as this experience would round-out Grooveshark’s offering.
Social networking capabilities - Grooveshark links you to a community of fellow listeners who comment, Facebook-style, on the tracks. You can also easily comment on tracks and share them on Facebook. On this same recommendation page is a list of related tracks, which you can add to playlists or to your listening stream. There’s also a Popular tab showing which tracks are getting the most streaming time. You can follow users and stream music from their own music libraries.
Mobile – If you pay for Grooveshark Anywhere you can listen to Grooveshark tracks on your supported mobile device.
Ease of use
The interface is simple but the tabs on the corners of tracks, for adding the song to the stream or a playlist, are fiddly and a little annoying. It would be good, for example, to be able to create a new playlist at the point of adding a track to your playlists, instead of going back to the Create Playlist tab. The look of the site is less sophisticated than Spotify and iTunes but you can navigate easily because everything you need is in the visible side bar, making it easy to switch between tasks and views.
There are frequent gaps on a less-than-speedy computer while the music downloads, resulting in an annoying experience trying to listen to music, but faster operating systems have no problems handling the streaming. And you can switch your preferences to stream smaller, lower quality songs on a slow connection.
Searching is very quick and typing a few letters into the box generates a list of possible matches. The only issue is due to the nature of the file-sharing system – the search turns up many duplicate tracks from different users and it can be difficult to immediately find the best match for you.
The music recommendation tool is turned off automatically and it’s not immediately obvious how to turn it on – the button is called Radio, which doesn’t seem instinctive. But this feature works well, turning out good quality matches to suit your current listening mood.
Help & support
The Grooveshark tone is chatty and friendly and the help options are equally welcoming. The Grooveshark Help page has many different topics to search on and answers to questions on subjects from slow speed to social networking. If you can’t see an answer you can Tweet or post on the Facebook wall, or send in your question on the form.
Grooveshark may not be as sophisticated as other music sharing sites but it is highly accessible, free and easy to use, and it offers a large selection of on-demand music and excellent social networking features.
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