Streaming music over the Internet has always been a legal gray area. Most streaming music sites tend to call themselves radio stations but the music industry thinks of them as independent media consumers and that is the reason that while radio stations get bulk deals for playing content, online streaming stations have to pay for each song streamed on a per user basis.
This, as you can imagine, doesn’t really bode well for sites that rely solely on advertising to cover their costs as advertising spots for all but the biggest sites are usually pretty low.
A lot of streaming sites have gone under trying to perfect a monetization strategy for online music and only a few have managed to survive. Among them Pandora is the most famous and while it is one of the few sites making any money, it is only accessible to people living the United States.
For people outside the US, Grooveshark is an excellent alternative to Pandora.
Grooveshark is an online music search engine as well as a music streaming service that lets users upload their music collection to their servers and then listen to it from any computer anywhere in the world.
Visitors to Grooveshark can also just search for their favorite music from the homepage and listen to songs without even registering.
Hop on to Grooveshark, type in the name of your favorite artist or favorite song and click search. Grooveshark will display a list of the songs from it’s catalogue that match your query. Select a song (or two) and either click Play to play the song(s) directly or Add to add the song(s) to a playlist.
If you don’t want to create a complete playlist and would rather just trust Grooveshark to do that for you, click the big Radio button on the player. Grooveshark will now automatically populate your playlist with songs based on the type of songs that you’ve already selected. How cool is that ?
And getting all this done without even having to register !
Of course, if you register and login, Grooveshark will also let you save playlists and mark songs as favorites so that you can come back to them later.
My favorite feature of Grooveshark, though, is the Popular songs Smart Playlist which is (I presume) a dynamically generated playlist with the most popular songs being played on the service at any time.
If there is a song that you really like and would like to purchase, Grooveshark lets you do that via Amazon or iTunes. They earn a small commission on that, of course, and if you’re really a fan, I’d suggest that you buy the music anyway.
Grooveshark is, in my opinion, a very worthy alternative to services like Pandora and for people living outside the United States, probably the only decent alternative.
Give it a try and let me know what you guys think of it.