Grooveshark is yet another attempt by a company to legalise the sharing of copyrighted music online. The upcoming service will be completely web based, and make use of Peer-to-Peer technology for the distribution of content.
Despite the fact that Grooveshark will heavily rely on P2P, it will still be a commercial service. Songs themselves won’t be exchanged for free. Users will be charged 99Â¢ per song, but since they’re also uploading files to others, they will get “rewards” in return. In other words, free songs.
Grooveshark’s business model is somewhat like the reward system that everyone thought Apple might implement with iTunes, if they integrated BitTorrent in Leopard, and the iTunes Store. Users buy and download songs & movies over BitTorrent from the iTunes Store and get free iTunes gift cards or points for uploading.
To me, this sounds like a “better” iTunes, especially if the songs are not infected with any kind of DRM, which Grooveshark says they will not. But will it be enough to convert all the people who share songs over “illegal” P2P networks like Gnutella? Maybe not, but I believe if users are given a sensible and competitive legal alternative, a decent amount will switch. And Grooveshark seems competitive on paper.
When it comes to the crunch, many services just fail to deliver. Remember Spiral Frog, anyone? What ever happened to it? It succeeded in getting not only the blogosphere and social news sites all excited about it, but also mainstream news agencies like the BBC. It was going to irradicate illegal music swapping. Then it was found out that the songs were going to be laden with Windows DRM and force users to keep going back to the website and watching ads to stop their songs from locking up. All hope of it becoming successful died then and there. Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen with Grooveshark.