Unlike the other music streaming services in this shootout, Grooveshark is unique in the sense that it incorporates peer-to-peer sharing in its model. You can upload music you own to the cloud, which is used to stream to other users. Expectedly, this has landed Grooveshark in legal tussles, with record labels suing the service for copyright infringement. To Grooveshark’s ongoing credit, it has managed to work out agreements with some of these labels.
The Grooveshark desktop interface is easy to navigate, with the main content area in the center of the page, the music player at the bottom and sidebar that displays your playlists, stations subscribed to and uploaded music.
Grooveshark shows the most popular songs on the site, as well as recommendations based on your listening history and your favorites. There’s also a Radio function that lets you listen to your favorite genres. It is hidden away in the Queue option though, so you’ll have to do a little exploring to find it.
Due to its peer-to-peer nature, Grooveshark’s library is pretty extensive and eccentric. You can find just about anything, but the drawback is that you’ll also find duplicates and duds in your search results. Grooveshark tries to moderate this by only accepting tracks with bitrates of 128kbps and above and when you play from the desktop version, Grooveshark will pick a version that’s the closest to 192kbps.
By connecting to Facebook or your Google account, Grooveshark lets you share songs via email, Twitter, Facebook or a link. Grooveshark also has a Community feature where you can add friends, follow users that have their own broadcast stations and even leave comments on tracks. You can also create your own broadcast, and share with other Grooveshark users what you’re listening to in real-time.
The desktop version is free, but a Grooveshark Anywhere membership (US$9/month) gets rid of the ads, gives you more space for your library and favorite lists, and access to the Android app. Due to Grooveshark’s ongoing legal issues however, the iOS app was removed from the App Store, though you can probably still find the app and get it installed on a jailbroken iPhone.