Grooveshark's big draw as a streaming music service is its large music catalog and unlimited ad-supported free listening in-browser. Reviewers also appreciate that Grooveshark allows users to upload their songs to the company's servers, which allows you to listen to them from any computer with an Internet connection. That strong triumvirate of features wins over many users, but experts report that things go downhill from there.
Most of the issues stem from the way Grooveshark adds new music; rather than signing a licensing deal with all the major U.S. labels, the service allows users to upload songs, which others can then stream. Theoretically, users shouldn't upload songs they don't own the rights to, but in reality, that rarely happens. The practice casts a shadow of dubious legality over Grooveshark, experts say. The company's mobile apps have already been pulled from the official app stores -- though they're still available on the Grooveshark mobile website -- and Grooveshark has already been forced to shutter its German affiliate and to begin charging users in several other countries. Grooveshark has also been sued or is in the process of being sued by all the major U.S. record labels. Users who upload songs they don't hold the license to could open a legal can of worms for themselves, as well.
The user uploads also create more practical concerns, critics note. The Grooveshark catalog contains gaps in its song availability, and the audio quality of songs can vary greatly from one track to the next -- from top-notch to near unlistenable. If you want a deep song catalog, unlimited free listening and consistent audio quality without all the troubling legal issues, consider trying out Spotify ($5 per month and up; free version available) instead.
Grooveshark isn't covered in reviews as often as other streaming music services, partly because of its questionable legality. Several prominent roundups pointedly mention skipping Grooveshark for just that reason. The best reviews available come from PCMag.com, Gizmodo.com and TheNextWeb.com. VikiTech.com also covers Grooveshark, and Lifehacker.com readers select it as one of their five favorite streaming music services.
Adrian Covert doesn't like much about Grooveshark, except that it's free. He finds the interface cluttered, the song quality and selection highly variable and music discovery help nonexistent. He also worries about Grooveshark's legality. "I don't know how they're getting away with this, but they are," he writes.
Review: The Best Streaming Music Service, Adrian Covert, Feb. 4, 2011
Grooveshark lands on PCMag.com's list of the best streaming music services. Jeffrey Wilson skips over the legal issues associated with the service, and unlike Gizmodo.com's Adrian Covert, he finds the music available to be of relatively good quality. The poor interface, duplicate song listing and lack of lyrical support knocks points off the overall rating.
Review: Grooveshark, Jeffrey Wilson, July 26, 2011
Although the author of the article makes a number of spelling and grammar mistakes, he does a good job of touching on the highlights and lowlights of the streaming music services covered. The editors compare Grooveshark's utility and song catalog to Spotify and find the service performs admirably. "GrooveShark is just as good," the editors write.
Review: The Complete Guide to Listening Unlimited Free Music Online, Editors of VikiTech.com
Courtney Boyd Myers examines four major streaming music services using a number of criteria, including amusing and insightful "Why it's awesome" and "Why it's lame" categories. She likes the free web-based nature of the service, but she finds inconsistent quality issues and thinks the ads are "horrific" and inappropriate. Still, she says "Grooveshark is awesome for on-demand music, available worldwide."
Review: Showdown: Spotify vs. Rdio vs. Grooveshark vs. Pandora, Courtney Boyd Myers, July 14, 2011
This roundup lists hard metrics -- such as catalog size, cost and plan details -- for 10 different streaming music services and provides some very light discussion for each. Fenlon recommends using the free version of Grooveshark if you want to hear music uploaded from users around the world.
Review: Spotify vs the World: 10 Streaming Music Services Compared, Wesley Fenlon, July 13, 2011
Lifehacker.com readers voted Grooveshark as one of the top five streaming music services available. "The service makes it incredibly easy to hop over, type in a song you want to hear, and click play to just hear it, no accounts, strings, or payment plans attached," author Alan Henry writes.
Review: Five Best Streaming Music Services, Alan Henry, July 24, 2011