January 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

Grooveshark Launches iPhone App in Face of Major Label Lawsuits

grooveshark for iphone

Unlike every other music streaming service, Grooveshark has Led Zeppelin -- and now it works on un-jailbroken iPhones again.

When a digital music startup distributes massive amounts of unlicensed music and fails to pay for the music it has licensed, most of us know what happens next: They go out of business. Not so with Grooveshark.

The popular P2P streaming site, which claims 30 million active users (over twice Spotify’s footprint) responded to lawsuits from every major label not by backing down, but by unveiling an HTML5 app that puts its service back on the iPhone, after Apple had booted it from iTunes. (Google followed suit, but allowed third-party apps like TinyShark into the Android market.

To access the new Grooveshark HTML5 app on just about any platform, all one needs to do is point a browser (including Apple’s own Safari for iOS) at html5.grooveshark.com.

Only yesterday, Evolver.fm asked Grooveshark to explain its side of these major label lawsuits. Our contact never responded, but with the company’s release of a mobile version of Grooveshark that works with iPhone, Android, and any other connected device with a browser, we have our answer. The company has battened the hatches and is plowing full-speed ahead back onto Apple’s platform, Google’s platform, and just about anywhere else.

The web-based version of Grooveshark already used HTML5, but it streamed music in Flash, rendering it unplayable on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch without an app, which Apple deleted from iTunes. In switching from Flash to HTML5, Grooveshark circumvents Apple’s attempt to keep it off of iOS, and Google’s attempt to keep its main client off of Android.

Not so long ago, Grooveshark was touting its deal with EMI, the smallest major label, and the only one to make a deal with Grooveshark. However, EMI claims Grooveshark hasn’t kept up its end of the bargain, and that it owes around $150,000 in back-payment of royalties. Grooveshark passed that off as a minor contract dispute, which didn’t prevent EMI from suing for the money.

With that lawsuit, Grooveshark found itself in the ignoble position of being sued by every major label — even the one with which it had struck a deal. (The other lawsuits have to do with labels claiming that Grooveshark should filter their music out of its service more effectively, rather than relying on takedown notices pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.)

So, what does Grooveshark do in light of all this? It circumvents Apple and releases an iOS-compatible version. By assigning a homescreen bookmark to html5.grooveshark.com, iPhone and other users can essentially install the service as a native app.

To some, Grooveshark free, ad-supported music service with millions of songs for sharing and streaming, which has legal protection under the DMCA. To others, it’s one of the biggest scourges on the music industry.

The one thing both sides should agree on: in taking on all four major labels, Apple, and Google, Grooveshark sure has guts.

  • andrekibbe

    All I got at html5.grooveshark.com on my iPhone was a “Coming Soon” page explaining that Apple hasn’t approved the native client “yet”, and that it’s available for jailbroken iPhones. Maybe things were different yesterday, but the web app doesn’t appear to be live.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719601147 Jeff Scurry

    Listening to it now

  • http://twitter.com/Ali_Digital Ali Adab

    Grooveshark also has an iPhone app (not browser based) if you jailbreak your iPhone. Seems like they don’t mind writing their own rules.