Streaming service Grooveshark, owned and operated by Escape Media Group, is shutting down permanently as part of the settlement that followed a copyright infringement case originally filed against the company in 2011 by a coalition of major music labels. Last month, a judge ruled that the service, which launched in 2007 and built its catalog from users uploading audio to the site (rather than the service securing licenses for all the music available on the site and building a central library), stood in willful violation of thousands of songs’ copyrights and damages could reach up to $150,000 per song. Grooveshark had 4,907 tracks at the time of the ruling; it had licenses for some but not all those tracks.
Grooveshark peaked between 2009 and 2011, boasting 35 million users, but has been marred by lawsuits brought by music labels and publishers since 2011 — Google pulled Grooveshark’s mobile app at the same time that all four major labels were filing suit against the company. It settled out of court with music publishing companies Sony/ATV and EMI in 2013 but the major labels won their lawsuit against the company in September 2014. After, Grooveshark claimed that the lawsuit was applicable only to an early Grooveshark version that hasn’t been used since 2008. In December, the company announced plans for a new app that would combine music and messaging that would be fully licensed.
The letter the company posted on its site is copied below in its entirety:
Dear music fans,
Today we are shutting down Grooveshark.
We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.
That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.
As part of a settlement agreement with the major record companies, we have agreed to cease operations immediately, wipe clean all of the record companies’ copyrighted works and hand over ownership of this website, our mobile apps and intellectual property, including our patents and copyrights.
At the time of our launch, few music services provided the experience we wanted to offer — and think you deserve. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. There are now hundreds of fan friendly, affordable services available for you to choose from, including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Beats Music, Rhapsody and Rdio, among many others.
If you love music and respect the artists, songwriters and everyone else who makes great music possible, use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders. You can find out more about the many great services available where you live here: http://whymusicmatters.com/find-music.
It’s been a privelege getting to know so many of you and enjoying great music together. Thank you for being such passionate fans.
Yours in music,
Your friends at Grooveshark
April 30, 2015