There are a number of services to listen to music online, but Grooveshark stands out because it focuses on one thing and does it very well. Want to hear a song? Type Grooveshark.com into your browser, search for it and play it. It’s that simple.
Of course, there is much, much more to their service and everything is tied to together in a gorgeous user interface. Registered users can save favorites, create playlists, share music and much more. The team behind Grooveshark even developed out Tinysong, which is a url shortener that allows you to quickly share links directly to songs.
For the Fans
For music listeners, creating an account allows you to create playlists, save favorites, and find playlists made by others.
For the Bands
For music artists, creating an account allows you to share and promote your music, along with access to some amazing analytics.
When Josh and Sam founded Grooveshark, they approached it with a much different outlook than their competition. The music industry had shifted from trying to sell cds in stores to trying to sell cds online, but that was the extent of the “innovation”. People were downloading music through file sharing networks for free, but their magic question was “why?”. The answer wasn’t “because it’s free”.
They saw greater value in the music content available for free. Music that was available on file sharing networks included remixes, live versions, acoustic versions and sharers even made their own collections to share. So, the free file sharing networks had deeper, richer content: if you could find it. To Josh and Sam, the missing element was accessibility. So they set out to create a service that would provide this deeper content for free and make it instantly accessible.
So, how did they take their idea and turn it into a service with nearly 1.5 million users and approximately 900 years of collective playtime per month?
They carefully built a team of people who “live what they are working on”. If the members of the Grooveshark team weren’t being paid, they would be doing exactly what they do in their position. While this is almost expected amongst the creative, it rings true amongst the entire staff. For example, if Isaac wasn’t selling for Grooveshark, he would be “steady hustling”.
You can check out the Grooveshark Team page for a full listing of the people and the positions that keep Grooveshark running.
“I love the fact that we’re all working towards the same goal, but from different angles.”
That was an amazing response to the question of what is the best part of working at Grooveshark. It not only describes the “feel” of an environment that takes pride in encouraging creativity, but it also describes the physical office layout. The office is a large rectangular shaped room with a lot of desks and no dividers. While the desks are grouped together by department, everyone is within “nerf ball throwing” range. (Not that anything like that would ever happen in a room full of startup employees, of course.)
Aside from that, it’s your everyday office with a conference room, chill room with a ping pong table and a kitchen featuring a newly acquired drink machine. Oh, and of course, the chef that makes breakfast to order in the mornings.
The office is occupied pretty much 24 hours per day and scheduling is as flexible as possible. Now, not doing 9-5 doesn’t mean they’re on cruise control. This team “gets shit done”, so 12 hour days and putting in some weekend time is pretty common behavior. (They are an internet company, after all.)
How They Make Money
As with many startups, Grooveshark started by focusing on creating an awesome product and growing its userbase. Revenue is currently generated through advertising and the newly launched VIP Service.
How They Will Make (lots of) Money
The mobile apps that are currently in development will add to the pie, but their “ace in the hole” is data. Grooveshark has been harvesting an enormous amount of anonymous data about music preferences that can help artists and advertisers stay one step ahead of their competition. They have approached their data product in the same way that they approached their music product: Gather a ton of content, display it through a beautiful user interface and make it instantly accessible to their users for free.
The goal of offering this information is to aid on connecting Bands and Brands. The data adds a third layer to existing demographic data that will help advertisers find new markets and fine-tune efforts in existing markets. Artists are able to use the data to help promote their music and there is unlimited potential in how this will affect the industry.
Imagine the value for Girl Talk in knowing the top cities in the world where their music is being played.
Grooveshark will be the Google Analytics of the music industry.
Why stop at connecting Bands and Brands?
The newly released and continually developing feedback system is dedicated to connecting bands and their fans. When a participating artist’s song is played, a notification pops up offering the fans to give direct feedback to the artists.
Grooveshark in Your Pocket
Once you solve the problem of making the music of the world instantly accessible from any computer with an internet connection, the next logical step is to make it accessible from any device with an internet connection.
Grooveshark is now available for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones. They apps are in beta stages and may be a bit buggy until they reach their release candidate, but for $3 a month you can try them out. For music lovers, this makes your favorite songs instantly accessible from anywhere you can get a signal.
Below are a few shots of the iPhone version, which is still pending approval from the Apple store. App Store approval would likely be worthy of adding to the collection of empty champagne bottles with event titles and dates in the Grooveshark office.
Ambition + Dedication = Success
Grooveshark is a very impressive service, making music freely accessible to the world. As good as the product is and may get, it will always be second to the amazing story behind it’s birth: “Two friends from college with differing skillsets and one common interest, create a company that could revolutionize a global industry.”
We would like to give a special thank you to John Ashenden for the invitation to visit the Grooveshark office. John is the Creative Director for Grooveshark and he takes pride in making things shinier than they normally are.
For info about Grooveshark and the company behind it, check out Escape Media Group.
Dan is the Editor of Fuel Your Coding. He is driven by a passion for design and engaging with the creative community. You can check out his personal site: http://dandenney.com or follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/dandenney