April 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

6 Reasons Grooveshark’s CEO Thinks Recorded Music Should Be Free

sam tarantino grooveshark ceo cofounder

Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino has played music since he was 10 years old (photo: Eliot Van Buskirk).

Grooveshark is getting it from all angles. Not only did its only major label deal (with EMI) collapse, but the company is now being sued by all four major labels for large-scale copyright infringement due to its policy of letting users upload music into its system, where over 30 million people stream it for free each month — mostly in the absence of licenses from artists, labels, and publishers.

On Friday the 13th, things took another turn for the worse, as TuneCore’s opinionated Jeff Price — who made his name signing the Pixies in the ’80s, whose company distributes independent music to iTunes and elsewhere, and who himself has  no love for major labels — launched a diatribe against the company.

“Grooveshark is a fish rotting from the head down,” he claimed. “The people running it are immoral and could [sic] care less about who and/or what they hurt as long as they make money. They make the major labels look like saints. From my perspective, there is no possible way anyone could seriously work at that place and state they truly care about musicians and songwriters, unless they are so delusional or drank so much of their own Kool-Aid they lost touch with reality.”


On that same Friday, I walked in to the Manhattan office of Grooveshark CEO and co-founder Sam Tarantino to find him strumming a guitar. He had agreed to be interviewed by Evolver.fm about why what his company is doing is not “dodgy,” in the word of a friend who recommended we not put together a playlist for Grooveshark because it would look like we were endorsing a company that didn’t respect copyright or musicians.

grooveshark netflix

Grooveshark users apparently have no problem paying for movies; Netflix is a current advertiser.

Grooveshark is available as a web app, and as a universal HTML5 app for just about any smartphone. The downloadable iOS and Android apps were banned from  iTunes and Google Play and are absent from the other stores. According to Tarantino, Grooveshark employs over 60 people in Gainesville, Florida, and 16 in the New York office where we met, most of whom are in the advertising division.

Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino defended the approach of the company he dropped out of college to co-found at age 19 in 2006 with his friend Josh Greenburg for nearly an hour, before he took a train to catch a plane.

Below are the six main reasons he thinks recorded music wants to be free, just like it (mostly) is on Grooveshark:

1. Record labels want too much money

Grooveshark was initially set up to be a service for helping users sell used digital music to each other, deleting the music from the seller’s hard drive as it was sent to the buyer, according to Tarantino. But when the iPhone came out, he quickly became convinced that the future lay in streaming music rather than downloading.

“That’s when it started to grow virally,” said Tarantino. However, that shift would ostensibly require licensing from the labels, unlike the plan to sell used digital music.

Around that time, he and Greenburg considered moving their budding startup from Gainesville, Florida to Silicon Valley. They did not, in part, because they considered licensing music from the labels to be too expensive.

I remember a specific point when we said, ‘We need to move to Silicon Valley. That’s where it’s all happening, and we’re going to go.’ Then it just didn’t make sense. Imeem was coming out, Playlist, Lala, SpiralFrog, Qtrax — all these guys started coming out [ed. note: follow those links to see what happened to those services]. We said, ‘There’s too much money being raised, it doesn’t make any sense, the label per-stream rates aren’t working — something’s going to collapse here. It doesn’t make sense. So we said, ‘Let’s just stay here — at least we know we can keep the costs lean.’

According to Tarantino, the labels are focusing on the wrong business (recorded music) at a time when the money is shifting to live events. Of course, decades of recording contracts exist built around the idea of artists selling their music to labels so that labels can ostensibly try make both parties money by selling that music. Nobody can blink and make those go away. But in Tarantino’s mind, the business nonetheless needs to evolve away from the sale of recorded music, the sooner the better.

2. Musicians Already Get Paid More by Touring Anyway

Contrary to what TuneCore’s Jeff Price argued, Tarantino claims he sees things from the artist’s perspective — and that, for those artists, recorded music is pretty much a wash anyway.

I’ve always looked at this problem from the musician’s angle. Did you see the Bieber numbers recently? They split the royalties for the song ‘Boyfriend,’ the fourth-best-selling download of all time. You look at the splits and it just doesn’t make sense: $390,000 to the label, which makes sense; $200,000 to iTunes; and only $83,000 to Bieber, with a couple of songwriters that get around $2,000 per year.

Then you look at Bieber’s tour. It’s like $52 million. I’m thinking about this, going, ‘If the fourth-best-selling download [has the] artist making sub-$100,000, and there are probably deductions [to recoup the advance from his label], something’s not right here.’ The distributor, iTunes, is making twice as much as the artist… and yet the tour is making over $50 million. It’s clear that in ten years, the incentives are going to align so that music should be free, because it’s going to sell everywhere else. Why should the music industry as a whole care whether or not the walletshare comes from a tour with a $100 ticket or $100 in CD purchases over the year? In the end, it doesn’t matter.

However, the stakeholders who profit from tours are almost always different from the ones who profit from recorded music. So-called “360-degree deals,” which give labels a cut of all of an artist’s revenue, making them a hybrid label/publisher/promoter/manager/brand licenser, are still relatively new. Which brings us to his next point:

3. The Music Business Is Too Slow and Partially Broken

As mentioned, Tarantino thinks the entire music industry must and will shift to 360-degree deals, in which artists sell not only their sound recordings and some of their publishing rights, but also a portion of their live show receipts, merchandise, and sometimes branding opportunities to labels.

In return, labels would offer larger advances, and ostensibly spend more time developing the artists because they would have a stake in them that extended beyond the sales and subscriptions of their recorded music.

For starters, he says he understands where the labels are coming from:

The core problem that the labels have, and I’m not necessarily ragging on them because I understand the history of it and why it’s been a scary thing: MTV screwed them over, Apple screwed them over [and] it’s always been this sort of contentious relationship with technology. It’s understandable. But fundamentally, imagine if they’d diversified their business into starting to buy promoters back in 2000.

Indeed, that would have given them a stake in live music earlier, and facilitated 360-degree deals much earlier. Hindsight is 20/20. Leaving aside the fact that the labels already did not do so, Tarantino elaborated on his history of trying to negotiate licensing deals:

Part of the problem is, I would go in at 20 years old with a service that had 10,000 users, going, ‘Guys, let’s just do this license, let’s work with each other, we can help you shift from point A [recordings] to point B [360-degree deals].’ And they all agree with this, by the way. They say,”‘Yeah, we’re going to the 360 model, and eventually we’ll be taking a cut of everything’…

They would kick me out of the office, basically, and say, ‘Come back when you have some users and we’ll treat you seriously.’ So I came back with 100,000 users, and it was like, ‘Well, this is interesting, but we’re not quite sure this model’s going to work.’

I mean, I’m an entrepreneur. You don’t take no for an answer, you just keep knocking at the door until you get in, right? So by the time we had two or three million users, they said, ‘You’re infringers, you’re these horrible people, you kill babies, you throw them out the window,’ and it’s like, ‘Wait, didn’t you kick me out of the office in the first place and said ‘Go build users so we can work together with equity?’

Just to give you a sense of what we were offering at the time, we ended up settling a deal with EMI at just under a million [dollars], but the overall money we’ve paid them to date is about $2.5 million… about $200,000 per month. And so, all of a sudden this [potential] Universal acquisition [of EMI] happens, and it’s like, ‘we no longer want your $200,000 a month.’

EMI is the smallest major label. That $2.5 million would look more like $25 million if all the labels were involved. Covering that would require Grooveshark to raise more venture capital money, although according to Tarantino, it was able to pay EMI using its only cashflow from advertising and didn’t have to tap into its venture capital investment, which he says totals below $4 million to date.

Again, the problem in his view comes down to labels asking for too much money, because he thinks they see more value in recorded music than the market will bear. Meanwhile, investors would be reticent to fork over $25 million only to see Grooveshark turn around and hand it to the labels, leaving Grooveshark with no option to secure licensing now that it has over 30 million monthly users (nearly twice as many as Spotify).

According to him, the slowness and lateness of their shift to 360-deals — as opposed to piracy on a mass scale driving the perceived value of recorded music ever downward — is why their revenues declined over the past ten years:

It’s not piracy, per se, that’s killing them. It’s the fact that they haven’t been able to build artists effectively and then monetize them around the ancillary revenues. Look what they’re doing with Vevo. Free music already exists: It’s YouTube, it’s Vevo. Legally, I can get any song I want off of YouTube right now, so it’s just funny to see their perspective on it. ‘Why are you supporting Vevo when you’re so aggressively attacking us?’ Somehow it just doesn’t make sense.

One reason that does make sense is that YouTube fought through the same sort of lawsuits that now face Grooveshark, and eventually obtained licenses from all the big labels and publishers. In addition, it helped the labels build Vevo, which they own (along with Abu Dhabi). And as far as its basic approach…

4. Grooveshark is modeled on early YouTube (the one that got sued)

The entire idea behind Grooveshark is to do what YouTube did, and still does (albeit with licensing): allow people to play just about any song as quickly as possible.

We said [in 2007 after the iPhone came out], YouTube works so well because anybody can just watch a video in two seconds. Click a video, or somebody sends me a video, and boom, you’re in. The whole Grooveshark concept is around ‘get to play a song as fast and easily as possible.’ Then the possibilities are endless for the amount of this shift from this consumer demand for paying for music, to the consumer demand being touring, merchandise, and everything else in the offline world…

And while you won’t find any Beatles songs on Grooveshark (one of the only bands it seems to filter out, rather than waiting for cease-and-desist notices), the Beatles are in fact all over YouTube, as he claims.

Look at YouTube and search ‘Beatles,’ and every Beatles master is up there, and I know from a fact — from having screaming matches with the EMI guys — that Beatles isn’t supposed to be anywhere except for iTunes. So, it’s easy to demonize us, but here’s YouTube doing the same things — but they’re Google, so how can they be illegal?

Outside of this Beatles case, they’re not illegal, in most cases, because YouTube has licenses with labels and publishers for most of its music. Without such licensing…

5. Grooveshark complies with takedown notices

Because Grooveshark includes almost all music for which it has no license, the company relies on the DMCA’s “safe harbor” clause, designed to protect ISPs and operators of user-generated sites when their users upload infringing material. Companies like Grooveshark need only comply with those takedown requests in order to be legal, which is what infuriates the company’s opponents (and Jeff Price).

We have six people — what the law says, and what we abide by down pat because we modeled this off of the YouTube situation, is that you don’t even necessarily have to build a filtering system [to stop certain music from being uploaded]. You just have to know exactly when somebody sends you a takedown notice, and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt [that they own the copyright to the song], so that’s what we do.

We get takedowns that aren’t even official DMCA takedowns that we still take down. We block users’ ability to upload on the first [takedown notice], and you’re supposed to ban users on the third. We’ve gone a little bit above and beyond what’s required by the DMCA, but still, when you’re growing fast, there are any number of new users who don’t know the rules.

And it’s those users who tend to fill in the gaps in Grooveshark’s catalog as soon as they appear due to a cease-and-desist notice, which is why you can find just about anything (except the Beatles) on Grooveshark.

Tarantino has a novel approach for trying to convert the rest of the music industry to his view that recorded music should be free, and that artists and labels should make money pretty much exclusively on touring:

6. Grooveshark’s Ad Platform Can Boost an Unknown Band to 500K Views in Three Weeks

To demonstrate to the labels that they should abandon the idea of selling music, and instead use recordings to promote show tickets and other ancillary revenue streams, Grooveshark is trying to show what it can do to promote 15 or so bands on its service as a sort of proof of concept.

Here we are, sitting on over 30 million users, and nobody has really come to us and said, ‘Let’s take my artist and start building them here so we can make them a $20 million tour on the back-end. That’s where I’m heading with it. We have this band called Quiet Company — and we’re doing this as a case study so we can show the industry — who had zero plays. They’re an Austin band, kind of Strokes-sounding band, really, really strong, a really good band. We ended up just giving them these engagement ads we have now. If you’re on Grooveshark for more than four hours, you have to watch an ad, and they’re all music video ads. The response is overwhelmingly positive. We haven’t lost any users…

So with the engagement ads, we started with the Quiet Company video, and we’re doing this with 15 other artists. We drove half a million views within three weeks to the Quiet Company video, and it had like a thousand hits before that. If we’re at 10 times our current scale, it means we can drive five million views in three weeks. That’s insane.

The big thing I see as an opportunity is that plenty of venues are sitting there unfilled. Consumers are obviously willing to shell out for bands they love to see them live. And what that requires is free music to build these eyeballs up as much as possible. It’s not just music, either — it’s everything.

Old media thinks of things as restrictive. ‘How do we have a release date and not give anything until that release date? How do we not give everybody an exclusive?’ Whereas in the tech world, it’s always about scale: ‘How do we get this to as many people as possible?’ It’s a very different mindset that has created this clash between the old and the new.

And there you have it: the six reasons Grooveshark co-founder and CEO Sam Tarantino thinks music should be free.

In the world he envisions, Grooveshark would make perfect sense — a point he hopes to prove using reason number six.

Whether that’s the world we actually live in is a different matter entirely.

Do you use Grooveshark? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Let us know.

  • http://www.backbone.com Paul Kamp

    His suggestion at the end of the article is really the old radio model for the Internet. Traditional terrestrial radio in the US did not pay performance royalties. Bands would get airplay on the radio so the bands could sell their records and concerts. It is a model that worked then and can work now.

    One thing I disagree with is the perception that Apple screwed them, they did not. Apple changed the music business and only took 30%, 5% of that would go to people that referred people to iTunes.

    The Apple/digital model enabled the record companies to eliminate significant costs in their traditional distribution model. They did not have to manufacture CDs, ship them, account for them and then sell off the version that didn’t sell or destroy them.

    Distribution is now the responsibility of Apple, Amazon and others. Manufacturing has been outsourced to the consumer. The accounting is all done digitally and inventory has basically gone away since there the creation of the digital content occurs only at the time of the sale.

    I am not sure why that is not discussed more because to me these cost savings are worth dramatically more than what the record labels have contributed.

  • http://twitter.com/brucewarila Bruce Warila

    The live performance / 360 revenue driven off the back of free music argument is flawed.  First the revenues sources are not mutually exclusive; second, the entire premise limits the pool of viable ($) artists to those that are positioned to become traveling shows, and that would further accelerate the conversion from aspiring professionals to hobbyists (do music fans want this?).  Then there’s the investment / scalability argument (http://j.mp/HXwDF2).  IMHO, any company or intellectual argument that weakens/threatens copyrights is not artist friendly. No be free or not free must be a rightholder’s decision.  If Grooveshark wants to get out of the shit they should become a leader in enabling granular, rightsholder control over…free or not.    

  • http://twitter.com/buffaloreynolds patrick reynolds

    I agree that we have a model that’s ripe for reinvention. That said, I’m not sure it’s up to Grooveshark to impose its solution on the industry unilaterally. What I violently agree with is the assertion that if labels would lean into the online audio channel as a prime means of promoting bands it would be better served than if it made it onerous for online audio services to help songs find their audience. Why do we have huge royalty implications for online audio and none for terrestrial? Online I can get lyrics, touring info, purchase music…in a much easier experience than I can terrestrially– if I could at all. Isn’t that helpful for labels and artists alike?

  • Anonymous

    Yup, this guy IS full of shit. I’ve been through all this with other greedy shits.  Some court should order him to seek written permission/refusal from each and every artist he’s pretending to “promote,” account for every penny he’s probably ripped off thanks to them, and pay the expenses for that.  Plus other stuff.  Nothing but a self-righteous, squealing little thief.      

  • Jakob Rehlinger

    The problem with the 360 and free-music model is it only works with touring artists who can legitimately charge high enough ticket prices. It effectively eliminates every other artist from the equation. If a band can only command an $8 cover (shared with two other bands) and no one wants to pay for a CD at the merch table (because recordings are expected to be free now, right), touring is going to be an unrealistic venture after a few years. Or what about a diva who can still sing but for health reasons can no longer tour. They can record an album but giving away 1,000,000 digital copies doesn’t do anything for them financially. Maybe they can do some ad endorsements or something, but it seems absurd they couldn’t make a living selling records.

  • Fred Spieler

    I will respond to several previous commenters who seemed to miss a fairly gaping point: that if you’re not touring, you’re not making $$. The argument has been brought up that the band who can’t sell tickets and can’t tour for medical reasons is left out in the cold. Well, welcome to the music industry. Grooveshark did not invent this. Labels have always taken plenty off the top on music sales.

    I’ll even go so far as to challenge the Internet to name one artist who made most of their money on record deals without owning their own label. (I create this limitation because the Beatles created their own label and stopped touring in the late 60s, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if they made more money touring than with record sales, and they were already huge at the point the stopped touring.) I am curious of which bands did the best when it came to record deals and how good those deals are. ———————————————————————Here’s a fun Kinks song from 40 years ago you can listen to for free on Youtube if Grooveshark makes you squeamish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCkmbD75a6UArtists have historically got shafted from record deals. Piracy doesn’t affect artists nearly as much as it affects a bloated and decaying distribution network that adds very little value.http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100712/23482610186.shtmlThe above article cites this article, which basically states that artists make around $1.6 per album (which can be sold for 10x as much): http://www.theroot.com/views/how-much-do-you-musicians-really-make?page=0,1&GT1=38002A couple other interesting links related to free or near-free distribution of material:http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090201/1408273588.shtmlhttp://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20111214/00162117076/louis-cks-experiment-brings-110k-sales-550k-gross-over-200k-net-four-days.shtmlGrooveshark is offering a solution to an existing problem of bands not getting paid. Is there vision spot on? It’s better than the RIAA’s for both fans and musicians. The big problem, however, is that it will starve the decaying behemoth that is the recording industry. Most money from record sales goes to people that don’t add any value to the records. Even Apple’s 30% is pretty obscene considering that Grooveshark is able to do the same basic task (hosting music) for free, in addition to fighting lawsuits from huge corporations. Apple could probably run a profitable music store taking a 0% cut based solely on advertising.

  • Fred

    OK, don’t know how the formatting got so screwed up, reposting the same comment with plenty of extra newlines. (Note to admins: commenters shouldn’t have to do this)

    I will respond to several previous commenters who seemed to miss a fairly gaping point: that if you’re not touring, you’re not making $$. The argument has been brought up that the band who can’t sell tickets and can’t tour for medical reasons is left out in the cold. Well, welcome to the music industry. Grooveshark did not invent this. Labels have always taken plenty off the top on music sales.

    Challenge:I’ll even go so far as to challenge the Internet to name one artist who made most of their money on record deals without owning their own label. (I create this limitation because the Beatles created their own label and stopped touring in the late 60s, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if they made more money touring than with record sales, and they were already huge at the point the stopped touring.) I am curious of which bands did the best when it came to record deals and how good those deals are.


    Here’s a fun Kinks song from 40 years ago you can listen to for free on Youtube if Grooveshark makes you squeamish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCkmbD75a6U

    Artists have historically got shafted from record deals. Piracy doesn’t affect artists nearly as much as it affects a bloated and decaying distribution network that adds very little value. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100712/23482610186.shtml

    The above article cites this next article, which basically states that artists make around $1.6 per album (which can be sold for 10x as much): http://www.theroot.com/views/how-much-do-you-musicians-really-make?page=0,1&GT1=38002

    A couple of other interesting links related to free or near-free distribution of material: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090201/1408273588.shtml http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20111214/00162117076/louis-cks-experiment-brings-110k-sales-550k-gross-over-200k-net-four-days.shtml

    Grooveshark is offering a solution to an existing problem of bands not getting paid. Is there vision spot on? It’s better than the RIAA’s for both fans and musicians. The big problem, however, is that it will starve the decaying behemoth that is the recording industry. Most money from record sales goes to people that don’t add any value to the records. Even Apple’s 30% is pretty obscene considering that Grooveshark is able to do the same basic task (hosting music) for free, in addition to fighting lawsuits from huge corporations. Apple could probably run a profitable music store taking a 0% cut based solely on advertising.

  • Andrew Potterton

    I hate Grooveshark. Oh, and Spotify, while we are at it.

  • LA Reid

    Maybe he should check this out to see why labels and publishers are upset: http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat031104.html  There’s also a lot of good books on how the music industry works you can find pretty cheap on Amazon.

  • Todor Jivkov

    This is my first comment ever, I normally read and stay passive. This went to far, first I don’t see why downloading music for free by real fans is illegal and than abusing our music, hours of passionated work, years of experience, hours in front of computer or studio and giving away for free, ok is not really free, some nerd who even call him self musician is making money. And we have to be happy with the cents and expect he will make us popular so we can tour. Buuuulshit. 
    There are more than than 6 reasons why he can give his wife, sister, daughter for free, why not, let’s be social, everything is free those days…

  • Buck Baran

    What we have are 20-somethings who want to get rich quick with twisted logic. In their minds they are justified in stealing a product and reselling it in the marketplace. The streaming industry is a low overhead business staffed by incompetent programmers. Once the public tires of the same old same old they will remove the monthly fees from their budgets.  My advice to “indies” is do not sacrifice your music to the “cloud.” Odds are you will never see a performance royalty. Your reward for your efforts is selling units. And Likes and Fans do not a sale make.

  • Barney

    Fred, what does that have to do with anything?

    Regardless of what numbers they (and you) throw out there, and regardless of whatever musicians and/or songwriters are getting paid, and who is taking what slice of the pie, IT IS NOT UP TO GROOVESHARK TO DECIDE FOR SOMEONE ELSE WHETHER THEY SHOULD GET PAID OR NOT for the streaming of their music.

    If you think about it for a moment, it’s actually the most idiotic argument one could possibly make for justifying why it’s OK to not pay artists or songwriters anything for the use of their music.  I mean, they’re basically saying, “Well, gee, Mr. Bieber, you sure are getting screwed by your label.  You’re not getting paid enough.  So we have a BETTER DEAL for you.  Instead of the insulting percentage you get right now, how does zero percent of zero sound?”  Yea, big freakin’ improvement, there.  People are getting screwed anyway, so… Hmmm… Let’s fix that by screwing them much harder.  Yea.  That makes a whole lot of sense!!

    Bottom line is this:  Artists have the right to decide when, and by whom, and for how much, they get screwed.  If they want to give their music away for free, whether for exposure or because they’re just nice, that is their decision.  If they want to get paid, or not get paid, that is their decision.  IT IS NOT GROOVESHARK’S RIGHT TO DECIDE, or anyone else for that matter, unless the artist has expressly given that right to someone else.

    Imagine if I figured out a way to funnel all of Grooveshark’s advertising dollars to myself, and told them, “Well, you don’t really need to make money at that, sell some headphones, that’s where the real money is, don’t worry about it, you were getting screwed because those advertisers weren’t paying you enough anyway.  Now you’re not getting screwed any more.”  Imagine what Grooveshark would say if I decided for them whether or not they should get paid the fruits of their labor?  (And I use the term loosely, because their “labor” is nothing of the sort–it’s really just stealing money from artists, musicians, and record labels, by failing to license music and pay the appropriate royalties.)

    Now, if you still can’t see how ridiculous (not to mention slimy and evil) the argument is re. all the dollars being in touring, then I feel sorry for you.  Because what you’re saying is that you’re OK if someone else decides what happens to your property, and you’re OK if someone else benefits financially from your hard work, while they give you nothing.  Zero.  Last time I checked, that’s called Socialism.  Or perhaps slave labor.  Doesn’t matter that nobody is getting whipped across the back any more, it is still taking financial benefit from someone else’s work against their will and refusing to pay them for that work. 

    Regardless of what name you call it, it’s evil.

  • TheFuture

    Point blank, recorded music should not be free! I am an unknown artist with music out that I am spending hundreds to thousands on and numbers aren’t moving. My hope is that eventually the songs will catch on but if people are expecting free music even if the songs catch on I never make any money and in act lose money recording songs that bring in no revenue and with no label supporting the means to tour I am just a guy making songs with my own money going nowhere!

    When a restaurant serves a meal it’s expected to be paid for, and when I spend $1000 or more to record a song I expect to be compensated for my art if you like it and want it

  • A Real Musician

    recordings should be free, well why don’t you pay for them ahole? He’s obviously making millions in revenue off other peoples music just like every other pirate site. Just because Itunes, cdbaby ect screw musicians over doesn’t mean that recorded music should be free, and just because you can make money touring doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to make money on a product such as a recording, musicians create the product musicians should be able to make a living off their product, many great artists will not be able to create music with the cuts that these jerks are taking, it takes a ton of time to create music and with whats going on now in order to make a living you’ll need to work a day job meanwhile this college dropout is making millions off your work! Maybe in the future there will be no new music because of these shady people? 

  • Andrei Knight

    Yeah, great… all music should be free.  If only recording studios, producers, and session musicians worked for free as well.  And if only Rolling Stone did articles on folks based on talent, rather than based upon how much ad space they bought.  If only you could get on Jay Lenno without a publicist, or had one that worked for free.  If only my landlord would let me live for free, and if people gave food and gas away for free.  Gee, I wish I lived in that world too.  :)

  • KSandra

    Agree with Jakob, this is BS – how about he pays for all of us to record our record, the graphix people, the music video production team…so we can effort to give music away for free
    http://www.IamKSandra.com and I work hard to survive in this tough biz

  • TJR

    The Bottom line: The only person who is allowed to decide how a content owners content is distributed is the content owner…..NO ONE ELSE!

    Remember this simple fact when a “Music should be free” Bozo starts trying to feed you the Kool Aid! ONLY THE CONTENT OWNER has the right to decide how their content can be distributed and if it is going to be distributed for free or not. This simple fact supercedes every single argument. 
    PS: CD Baby and itunes do not rip off artists. They pay them. I make money from CD Baby and itunes. They take a small percentage for providing me with a service (It’s called selling my music for me)

  • Kidrock42

    sorry but that is a shameless plug…. and I am a artist/producer/engineer of 20 years and as the original post states touring is the way, I do similar I don’t make a truck load of money but I’m fairly comfortable and I offer my music online for free but alot of the problem lies with this current climate of trash music is people who are not capable of performing live yet expect to be making money from a over produced autotuning piece of crap that they care to call music….. and then have the cheek to state how they work hard…… now get real, get on the road build a fan base and do some proper work…

  • Oqfbl

    nice…i like recording my own music though! a buddy of mine set up this sweet new drumming program. http://ow.ly/aIZDN

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1074132739 Sean Kennedy

    After reading the comments on this blog, not only will I not be using Grooveshark, but I’m going to start HEAVILY increasing my illegally downloaded music and uploading to dropbox and google music so that entitled people won’t be getting any of my money.  I’ll be damn careful who’s shows I attend now that I see how fucking greedy most of you are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1074132739 Sean Kennedy

    I also am jumping over to Grooveshark and add a payed subscription, thanks douchebags.

  • Entitled

    I am going to take your profile picture and use it to promote RIAA ideology – Thanks for sharing your content with me Assbutt

  • Starstruck

    LA Reid!!!

  • Milesa

    WHAT? Creative artists LOSE…check out http://www.fareplay.org

  • JuneauJohn

    How do bands gain a following? TOURING. Go to festivals, open for other bands. ‘Purchasable’ music has only existed for about a hundred years, its not an inevitability. Maybe if the industry reverted a little more to the starving artist model a higher quality product would result.

  • walkamileinourshoes

    TOURING? REALLY?  ….GEE THANKS ASS! If you think touring is so easy, let’s see you do it!!! BTW: All the starving artist model will do is force more good players to get other jobs to support themselves……PS What’s your solution for all the songwriters who don’t perform and can’t tour?  I’d love to hear your master plan. I bet you want them to starve so they put out better work.  

  • http://twitter.com/timmitchell Tim Mitchell

    I’m sure Levi’s would love it if denim were free, because – wow – think about how much more money they would make without having any COGS! And no more hassling with suppliers and buyers. Oh, and that’s nice that you play guitar… the digital music equivalent to politicians taking pictures in factories with hardhats on.

  • Anonymous

    If you are any good, touring is easy. I’m sick and tired of hearing all you half ass artists complain and blame your lack of art on businesses like Grooveshark. Remember, touring is a symptom of success, and systems like Grooveshark can get you to success faster than the traditional business model. I honestly have no idea why you artists fight this change… just ridiculous.

  • Anonymous

    He’s not a thief. Did you even read the article? Google does the SAME exact thing. How pathetic that people like you, and the heads of the music industry pick on the small guy. I really don’t know how to explain this to you. Music is overpriced as is, and it has been for a long time. The market is already showing you that they don’t want to pay the prices you used to ask, so many people are moving towards streaming, and people are showing the really, they would rather not even pay for that. The ease that a person can access music now, instantly lowers the price anyone could charge for any music. Sorry…. that’s just the way tech works.

    You cannot win here really. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: If you can’t beat them, join them. Because if they don’t join, they will be bankrupt before long. Look at all the money they’ve wasted over the last 10 years fighting it.

  • Anonymous

    You’re a real idiot… that’s what you are… “recordings should be free, well why don’t you pay for them ahole?” Did you even read this? He is saying that you make more money giving your stuff away for free in the long run than you do hording it, and trying to tag people for money at every turn. My god… you “musicians” are a bunch of fucking cry babies. Oh booo hooo hooo…. you have to get a job? Noooooo! Not that! Again… you all are worthless cry babies. I think it’s safe to say to all of the artists complaining on here that Grooveshark has not affected your sales at all, not one bit. If anything, sites like Grooveshark give you a better chance of being noticed, and you spit on them and the run off to the traditional music industry and beg for some scraps off their table and beg for the recognition.. How pathetic… you all really are idiots. Here is a perfect tool to get yourself noticed, but you would rather whore yourself out to an obsolete pimp.

  • Anonymous

    They’re in no place to impose anything on anyone, but they have shown that the model works, and now that it is showing itself to be valuable… here come the lawyers to cry foul like the cowards they are. Grooveshark has shown that the music industry has no desire to work with anyone to make the market as a whole better for artists and businessman alike. The recording industry has shown it wants to maintain its stranglehold on the market. It’s helpful for all of them… you don’t seem to get it. The labels are well aware this method could help them, they just wanted someone else to prove it was possible, they will sue them into oblivion and the pick up the scraps and raise the prices. You can’t raise prices if someone is challenging your monopoly.

  • Anonymous

    You are not stealing something by listening to it. Hahaha… talk about twisted logic. You “artists” crack me the hell up, your product is near worthless. You get paid for shows, you do not get paid for a recording that can be reproduced an infinite amount of times… You know what’s supposed to happened to prices when supply is infinite? The price is supposed to be zero, and without government intervention, it already would be. You can’t really hold back this tide, so stop your complaining and hop on board.

  • Anonymous

    Red herring. Would you all please stop blaming Grooveshark for technology innovation? Grooveshark did not create these problems, Grooveshark is not dictating anything to anyone. Actually, Grooveshark is not a problem at all. You send them a take-down notice, they will take-down your music, it’s really that simple. But keep in mind that while you’re over there crying about losing money and you take down your song, you’ve also just taken yourself away from 30 million subscribers… so go for it. We don’t care. We sharks don’t want to listen to people who have such twisted logic anyways. We want to listen to real rockers, not you wannabes.

  • Anonymous

    And oh ya… the model does actually work. I’ve gone to more concerts in the last few years than I ever have my young adult life. found most of them on Grooveshark, or better yet, having Grooveshark and access to their music made me a much more loyal fan that was willing to dish out the money if they band dished some time out on me. I have never bought a single album of any of theirs, but I got to listen and beta test all their music for free, fall in love with the band and their music, and will shell out tons of money each time they come in town from here until the day I die.

    You cry babies just don’t seem to get it. Your recordings are your advertising. It’s your resume to me as a potential fan. Sorry if you don’t like it, but the tide has changed, you have to prove yourself to me before you get my money, not the other way around.

    I’m glad to see things are changing. This whole notion that I need to pay you for the privilege of hearing a song that is also playing on the radio, on youtube, on TV, everywhere, is just ridiculous. You artists don’t get money just because you ask for it. I don’t owe you money because I hear something of yours. Licensing at the consumer level is unrealistic, is uncontrollable, and unsustainable. It costs more money to enforce than you would make from enforcing it, so you’re left with this dilemma: stay with the obsolete business model, or move to one that will help you as an artist.

  • gofish

    they could – if anyone bought records anymore! the model has to change. if they can’t travel, monetize the digital release event. kids will paypal 99¢ to get their favorite bands new song the night it comes out. there are a thousand ways to change the model that does not make it a “control copies” model.

  • http://www.youtube.com/whistlersbrother TheCannabisWhistler

    Nobody is asking you to pay for listening to music, and nobody is asking you to buy anything you haven’t heard first. As you just pointed out, you can listen to it for free many places. YouTube, the radio, Spotify, etc., the list goes on and on. The difference is, when somebody hears music in any of those places, the artist is getting paid, even if it’s only a little tiny bit. But those all add up. Grooveshark on the other hand, does not pay anybody anything for the use of their music but they are making a lot of money off other people’s work. What artists are saying is, Grooveshark needs to follow the law and do what all those other methods do: Pay a portion of their profits–and yes, they are profiting very nicely–to the people who make the “worthless” products that are generating millions of dollars for them.

    By the way, I find your concept interesting, that simply because you can copy something infinitely it becomes worthless… If it’s worthless, then why do 30 million people come to Grooveshark? And why is Grooveshark making millions of dollars on advertising revenue? Law of supply and demand works great with physical goods, not quite so well with valuation of digital commodities. If musical recordings truly have no value, then people would not seek them out and use them millions upon millions of times. Obviously they have value to people. It’s just that people have become entitled because digital technology has made it easy to get everything for free, so people don’t have to (or want to) pay for it any more. And I don’t have a problem with that, like you said, there is no stopping it. But most “free” methods do generate revenue (like Grooveshark’s advertising dollars) and under the law, the artists are entitled to a piece of that revenue. Why? Because they are the one who produced the product that is generating the revenue! It’s really not that complicated. Where it becomes complicated is when you have thieves like Grooveshark who profit from these products WITHOUT paying anything to the artists. Sorry, I don’t see how you can justify that. Listen to all the free music you want, but if you’re making millions of dollars and not paying a dime to the people who did all the work to produce the products that are generating that revenue for you, there is no justification for it.

  • Lena

    Exactly, many mainstream artists I wouldn’t even know they existed weren’t it for places like Grooveshark and Youtube. Before, it used to be so hard to hear about a good band until somehow they made it big. I’m not saying sold music should be eliminated, but I think they should explore both models, because I’m one of those people who listens to an album first and then if I like it, I go and buy the entire CD or I buy the songs I like online. But I would NEVER venture to buy music from an artist I haven’t heard enough music from, that’d be a waste of my money and time. So I think the free model works, and of course, there’s risk with that model just like with any other business in the world, nothing is 100% failure proof. The music industry can’t stay the same forever. Someone mentioned the problem with artists health and concerts profits in that case, well, there’s other type of merchandise! If not, just take a look at The Avengers movie, it was pirated like many other movies, but they keep afloat selling toys, T-Shirts, mugs, posters and all kinds of collectibles. So there.

  • James

    And what about studio based musicians who don’t tour? Starve I guess.

  • http://stocktiger.net/ StockTiger

    when a band sells a tune on iTunes – apple keeps 30 cents and the band keeps 70 cents. That is why it has worked so well and tons of artists no longer use a record company. Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, Rhapsody, Netflix, Amazon and thousands of websites and of course over 11,000 radio stations and all TV networks pay ASCAP fees that go to the artists. They cannot just play music for free as that would be stealing. Of course though all movies should be free as they make so much profit from popcorn! That makes as much sense as what Sam proposes.



  • http://twitter.com/stevepaesani Steve Paesani

    The artists are part of the same theft ring as the producers and distributors.

    Anyone can choose not to listen or purchase their products yet not anyone can decide not to support their lifestyles without severe penalty and hostility and that is an overt act of agression on the part of the entire music industry towards all people.

    They demand their cars ‘or else’, they demand the mansions ‘or else’. They demand for themselves at the expense of a great many people ‘or else’.

    If anyone wants to test the waters say no to working on the construction site of the next mansion being built. Say no to serving a construction worker from the site. Say no to supplying the restaurants that feed the workers on the site. In fact say no to any request for anything from anyone in the music industry and see what happens.

    You will invariably be met with hostility, threats, violence. The “singers of peace”, the “Adventists of human rights” will all resort to violence and threats of violence of some kind.

    That’s a reality wether anyone wants to admit it or not.

    Now does this make ripping, burning copying their songs and not paying them a penny right?

    Personally if it led us to the negotiating table for fair and social instead of the anti-social if not sociopathic demands of the industry then yes I would say it’s right in that regard.

    The fact however is that the demands are socipathic and that indicates that the people making those demands can not be bargained with. In this light who would want to listen to their music at all?

    Better the music from the good heart through good channels than the bought ripped or burnt from the theives at sony and co productions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gammaworld John Wilkinson

    I’m a grooveshark user and even I am against it. Just waiting for the day when my favorite music source sleeps with the fishes.

    I understand what he’s trying to do but it’s because of sites like his and other pirates than it’s so hard to make it in the music business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gammaworld John Wilkinson

    Not one cent goes to the artist. At least the distributors give a little back. Music is free, but it’s campfire stuff without a little help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gammaworld John Wilkinson

    Musicians don’t make a lot of money except the few who are boosted into the limelight. And people still pay to listen.

    Music is free, but I’ll be damned if someone is going to tell me how much I can charge for pouring my heart out.

  • bweazel

    Take it up with the recording industry you guys love so much. They DO get money, whether you like to admit it or not, if they don’t give that to the artists, that’s the artists fault for not writing a better contract. Maybe your music is camp fire stuff, but the best artists out there are not.

  • RDman

    I see grooveshark much the same as if I were sitting in someone’s living room listening to their cds on their home stereo.

    So if I go visit my buddy and we have a few beers and listen to tunes, am I supposed to keep track of which tunes we listened to so that I can remit the proper royalties to the suits in the ivory towers?

  • MusicIsTooExpensive

    Yes, I use Grooveshark, and no, I’m not paying $0.99 every time I want to add a song to my playlist.

  • Jacob

    I am an unsigned musician and even my music is on Grooveshark. I SELL my music via Bandcamp and I don’t want or need Grooveshark. It is because of sites like Grooveshark that young unsigned musicians can’t make money. I am not being precious.. I’ve uploaded my music to Youtube, Vimeo and I’ve made it available to stream on Spotify. That was my choice but with Grooveshark they never asked my permission. Major labels will drop their cases against Grooveshark for a fee but the rest of us will get nothing. I’ve asked them to pay me or remove my music from their platform, and they did neither and instead implied I should be thankful to them (for the same reasons listed in the article). But fundamentally they are making money from there business and not splitting the proceeds fairly or at all. Spotify is legal and if Grooveshark can’t compete they shouldn’t be in business ripping off other peoples hard work. Grooveshark isn’t an indie company (pretense).. they are corporate monsters after the buck no matter which way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-ODaniel/100001618205789 Jacob O’Daniel

    the problem here is really not apple taking a fat cut or it needs to be free the problem is what you just explained it cost nothing compared to manufacturing physical media after the song has been made it sits on a server to be bought, and they STILL wanna charge us as if if its physical media. same thing is goin on with ebooks they wanna charge the same price as buying the book straight up yet nothing was printed stored shipped ect, digital songs should cost a hell of alot less than physical media not free but waaaaay less. apple (for instance) takes less of a cut, make songs cheaper, more get sold they end up making even more money. could you imagine how much music would be bought by ppl if a song was say a quarter or an album cost 3-4 dollars i guarantee they’d make more money than they do now and pirating would be less of a problem

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-ODaniel/100001618205789 Jacob O’Daniel

    the music business is not supposed to be easy period back in the day records were just sold to promote touring,no artist really made any money unless they were doing concerts. if its to easy to make it in music everyone would be a musician, its the nature of the beast