We audition several streaming music services and give you the low down on each one
A candidate for the world's oldest known instrument is the Divje Babe Flute carved from the femur of a cave bear over 40,000 years ago. Replicas proved it was capable of two and a half octaves, or three if overblowing. Over time, musical instruments would become more sophisticated, as would the songs, but one thing that hasn't changed is the inherent love of music that nearly all human beings seem to possess.
Just as tens of thousands of sites were getting ready to plunge themselves into darkness to (successfully) protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy legislations, music streaming service Grooveshark went dark in Germany on Wednesday. It too was protesting against something. But that’s where the similarities end. The company, a bête noire of music labels, has decided to shut down its German operations due to the “unreasonably high” licensing costs being demanded by music performance rights outfit GEMA , which claims to represent “64,000 members (composers, lyricists, and music publishers), as well as over two million copyright holders all over the world.”
Grooveshark’s employees illegally upload hundreds of thousands of copyrighted songs to the service to boost its usefulness. Universal Music produced emails from Grooveshark’s CEO in which he basically admitted that they were growing a tremendous user base “without paying a dime to any of the labels” – which doesn’t prove employees upload songs, but could throw a big dent in Grooveshark’s DMCA Safe Harbor claims. Oh yeah, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the emails apparently pissed off Sony and Warner, too, and now they’re likely gearing up to sue Grooveshark, too.
Amid all the doom and gloom around Spotify’s profitability for artists, the service has been doing quite well by the numbers. Without disclosing the breakdown by nationality, Spotify has announced that it has 2.5 million paying members. It appears that the expansion into the US market has afforded the music streamer solid growth.
Online music streaming service Grooveshark recently switched to a new design. Given all the questions over the service’s legality, it’s quite likely that the latest redesign is intended to bring the company some good fortune in the courtroom. Actually, it better be a good luck charm because Grooveshark desperately needs one as its legal woes show no sign of ebbing. The company now finds itself in the cross hairs of a Danish anti-piracy outfit.
Music streaming service Pandora has taken heat as of late despite being one of the most downloaded apps on most mobile platforms. The problem is that as time goes on, investors are becoming increasingly skittish regarding Pandora’s ad revenue. At present, the company is not expected to turn an annual profit until 2014. As a result, Pandora’s stock price has tumbled 16 percent in recent months.
Spotify’s US launch caused such a big splash in the streaming music pond that ripples are still being felt. Many of the pricing barriers placed between users and the streaming services’ vast music libraries are tumbling down in Spotify’s wake: Pandora ditched its listening limit, the previously “Paying customers only” MOG rolled out a free version, and today, Rdio unveiled a new plan to let users get their listening on cash-free.
After months of rumors, whispers, and flat-out teasing by CEO Daniel Elk, Spotify finally hit the U.S. back in July. Even though the streaming music service still a bit green behind the ears in America, Spotify is no rookie; it’s been the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla on the European front for years. Now that you’ve had a couple of months to get used to Spotify’s deep catalog and basic abilities, it’s time to get serious and slip on your Maximum PC power user hat.
Spotify has been pulling in new users by the boatload since it appeared in America a few months ago. The announcement last week that the music streaming service was being integrated with Facebook will likely serve to swell its ranks even more. But users that decided to jump on the bandwagon now that Spotify is open to all have suddenly found that they must sign in with a Facebook account to get access.
In order to make Spotify happen on US shores, the company needed to make a few compromises; namely, listeners could only tune in to the ad-supported free version for 10 hours a month, half as long as the 20 hours a month European listeners got. If you wanted to keep listening after that, you needed to pony up the cash for a $5 or $10 subscription plan. That’s about to change; starting today, new Spotify users can listen to unlimited amounts of ad-supported music for their first six months.