WebWatch: How online music got its groove back


Grooveshark has become a jewel in the crown of musical streaming sites like Lastfm, Spotify and Hypem. Dan Moriarty explains why

Grooveshark was formed in 2006 by three undergraduate students from the University of Florida. It has fast become a peerless music sharing website due to some unique features.

Grooveshark has a very simple, user-friendly layout. It operates in a similar manner to iTunes, with the one obvious advantage of having pretty much every song in the world available in its vast internet library.

It has become a firm favourite at parties due to its way of organising the songs one wishes to play. Once the first song is playing, any song you click with the play icon will simply join the queue and start when the songs ahead of it have finished. This method cuts down on petty in-party bickering amongst overly enthusiastic musos.

Music streaming sites tend to follow one of two approaches. Approach one is typified by YouTube and Spotify, where they are geared at giving you instant access to music, but do not really help you discover new music effectively. At the other end of the spectrum are sites like The Hype Machine and 8tracks, which are geared at discovering music.

Approach one sites tend to let you choose what you listen to, whereas approach two sites tend to give you music to listen to. Grooveshark, however, manages to blend these two approaches very effectively. The easy-to-use search engine allows you to access your old favourites while the Grooveshark radio takes into account what you have listened to before, randomly selecting songs it considers similar to your listening tastes.

The Grooveshark search function allows you to filter your results by artist, album and playlist amongst others. This makes it easy to find a specific album and listen to it through. The playlist function allows you to listen to playlists created by other users.

It is of course not without its own faults. Despite seeming to contain every song ever known to man, there is no sign of Pink Floyd, The Beatles or even some decent Bob Dylan recordings. The menu from where the songs play can be a bit confusing to navigate at first and can take some time before you properly adjust to it. There seems to be an excess of buttons, some of which do about four things, and some of which appear to do nothing at all.

Despite its flaws, Grooveshark gets a lot right and for what it does, it does it well. So if you’re looking for an alternative to Spotify or need something more streamlined, you could do much worse.