The Search for Better Music Streaming: Grooveshark

Music streaming apps have advanced significantly in recent years, but perhaps not to the extent they should have. However, among the many available such as Pandora, Last.fm and Slacker, you’re bound to find something that suites your needs and fits your taste.

Grooveshark is a little different from the above listed music streaming apps, which are more radio station type streaming apps. We’ll take a look at Grooveshark and the features it has to offer for those of you in search of a better music streaming app.

Overview

Grooveshark takes a slightly different approach to music streaming, not limiting users to preset radio stations but allowing users to create their own playlists, adding to them even during playback. While they do have an impressive music library available for streaming, you’re not likely to find everything you’re looking for. However, Grooveshark allows users to upload music of their own into their Grooveshark library—a unique feature for music streaming apps. This is also where all of Grooveshark’s music comes from (user uploads).

Grooveshark Home

Grooveshark Home

Heading over to Grooveshark, you’ll notice you jump right into the flash-based app to immediately start streaming music—no signup or registration required. You’re not limited on the number of songs you can play or skip either.

Interface

First impressions of Grooveshark’s interface is quite positive, except for the never-pleasant advertisements. The interface is intuitive and easy to use so you can get to playing music right away. When Grooveshark first loads, you’re presented with a large search form—front and center. This kind of design choice is nice because it’s obvious where to start.

Search For Music

Search For Music

If you dislike the advertisements enough, you can optionally pay $3 per month or $30 per year for VIP service which hides the ads.

Upon searching for music, you’re given a list of song search results matching song, artist or album. Searching is very quick and the app seemed to load search results with near-desktop speed.

Music Search Results

Music Search Results

One feature I’d like to point out here, is that you’re able to search within the resulting page, optionally refining your search to find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s an often overlooked feature but one that can be quite useful.

Overall, as you navigate through the app, searching, selecting, creating and playing music, it’s a pretty seamless and smooth experience. The design is fresh and crisp; something you won’t mind looking at for extended periods of time. If you sign up for VIP service, you’re also able to apply different themes to the app (among other great incentives).

Selecting and Playing Music

Once you’ve found the music you’re looking for, hovering over the song, artist or album will display additional options to add the song to your current playlist (plus), add to your favorites (heart) or select from additional options to share, download or add to your library (gear).

Music Selection

Music Selection

The song, artist and album text are also links which will navigate to a corresponding view of the music.

When you add a song to your current playlist, a view of the playlist springs up beneath the player controls. From here you’ll be able to navigate and edit your playlist as necessary. If you’re not adding the song to an already saved playlist, a new one will be created which can optionally be saved or exported.

Playlist View

Playlist View

Hover over individual songs to play, or view other options such as delete, favorite and share. Click the double arrow pointing down (next to the Radio button) to hide the playlist view.

Radio

So you might’ve selected a few songs to add to your playlist, but maybe you’re not sure what to add next. While Grooveshark takes a strong user-controlled approach to music streaming, they also give you a fantastic radio feature.

Playlist Radio

Playlist Radio

Clicking the Radio button while viewing/playing your playlist will add songs to your playlist similar to songs you’ve already added to the playlist. From the results I’ve had, it seems to work quite well; selecting songs I really liked, related to what I was already listening to.

As songs are added to your playlist using the radio feature, you’re able to like or dislike them (with the smile or frown faces) which will give you better radio results pertaining to what you like.

Radio Like or Dislike Songs

Radio Like or Dislike Songs

You can also like or dislike songs from within your playlist viewer in case you’re browsing other music in the main window above.

Radio Like or Dislike Songs in Playlist

Radio Like or Dislike Songs in Playlist

Uploading Music

One of the features I was most surprised by from Grooveshark, was the ability to upload your own music. This is actually where Grooveshark’s entire library of music comes from. While it may sound like a great idea to upload your music, you’ll want to be cautious in doing this. You’ll want to make sure you’re only uploading music that won’t be violating any copyrights.

With that being said, the upload process seems to be relatively straight forward. Click the Upload Music button (under the playlist sidebar) to open the upload applet. In the upload applet you’ll have to add folders you want the uploader to search. Once you’ve uploaded your music, Grooveshark will have to process the music to make it streaming ready. Grooveshark says this process can take up to 48 hours, at which point your music will then appear in your library.

Upload Music

Upload Music

VIP

If you want more features, the best Grooveshark has to offer, then you’ll want to become a VIP for $3 per month or $30 per year.

VIP

VIP

VIP’s get additional software like Grooveshark Mobile and Desktop for free, along with quite a few other additional web app features like themes, more music, etc.

VIP Features

VIP Features

Conclusion

With a great collection of features, well designed and intuitive interface and relatively large music library, Grooveshark is definitely an impressive music streaming app that is likely capable of satisfying most of your music needs. It’s even better when you take into consideration they don’t limit your music playtime or restrict music navigation like other popular apps.

Along with the great interface, there are plenty of options for sharing the music you love, even exporting playlists and downloading songs (Amazon and iTunes integration). Adding in the optional (and cheap) VIP membership to remove ads and unlock many great features and it’s clear why Grooveshark is such a popular app.

Grooveshark isn’t without its faults though. The music library doesn’t include everything so you’ll likely find times where songs you want aren’t available. The ability to upload music is exciting but if you upload copyrighted music, you’re personally held liable—so be very careful. Mobile apps are available, but not on the iPhone (because Apple won’t approve it) unless you’ve jailbroken yours.

While the actual (flash-based) Grooveshark web app functioned quite well for me, it was quite the resource hog. I’m not a fan of dedicating so much system resources to any music playing application. Even worse though—Grooveshark’s website (and uploader applet) had several issues across browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Even the main streaming app crashed Safari more than once.

Your Favorite?

What’s your favorite music streaming app? Pandora? Last.fm? Grooveshark? Share your thoughts and favorite app in the comments below.

Be sure to subscribe to our feed and follow us on Twitter for more great web app reviews, how-tos and roundups! Later this week we’ll be presenting the top ten music streaming web apps so get your vote in and stay tuned.


Summary

A free music streaming, sharing and discovery web app also allowing users to upload music for access anywhere.

8

Responses

Add Yours
  • If only it supported Last.fm scrobbling, I’d use it.

  • My favorite was imeem… now I only use Grooveshark

  • I like Grooveshark because it can play pretty much any song on demand. For music discovery, though, I prefer Last.fm.

  • I have been using Grooveshark ever since my primary hard disk with all of my music got busted.
    I like using it because you don’t have to think of what to do: the UI presents you basically what you have to do.
    I use it sometimes for music discovery too, though I tend to like the recommendations by Last.FM rather than the Radio of Grooveshark (well, that is because Last.FM is primarily a music discovery service, not a streaming service).

  • Thanks for the comments everyone! It’s great to hear the feedback on Grooveshark and Last.fm. :-)

  • I love Grooveshark and have been using it every now and again after discovering it a few months back. I love the simplicity of the interface, and overall it’s just a pleasure to use… sometimes I find the search a bit buggy but most of the time it works ok.

    I’d definitely recommend Grooveshark for a free way to stream music.

  • Seems like grooveshark is able to make a small revolution inside the music industry. I love the design and usability

  • Been using grooveshark basically since it started and use it on a near daily basis, I also opted in for VIP. The Desktop App is made in Adobe Air and its nice.

    Long Live Grooveshark!

  • Personally I don’t remember how I was able to work without grooveshark. I used to use pandora until I found grooveshark and have never looked back.

    Also on.

    “Even the main streaming app crashed Safari more than once.”

    This is a problem with safari and apples blatant ignorance toward flash. Not a problem with Grooveshark.

    (please fix this form in opera…)

    • In Safari 4 flash runs as a separate process so it shouldn’t crash the browser itself, just Flash. I can’t help but think Flash is at least partially to blame here since Safari has generally handled other flash apps (even ones that crash the Flash process) quite well.

      Considering it ran fine in Opera though, it wouldn’t surprise me if Safari was to blame though.

      Not sure what the comment about Opera is about. If you have an issue with a part of the site, please take a screenshot and email web[at]appstorm.net Thanks!

  • Spotify is by far the best music streaming service. Since I started using it I haven’t bought or downloaded any music.

    The app is so clean and easy to use, and best of all it’s free! However, if you pay for a premium account you get a lot of extra features, for example iPhone/Android/symbian app, higher bitrate, offline mode, removal of ads and travel access wich means you can use Spotify in countries were it hasn’t launched yet.

    I know Spotify havn’t launched yet but they are working hard on it and I think they will be a succes when they do as they are in Sweden.

  • Spotify!

  • At the moment, I use iTunes, Spotify and Last.fm all interchangably. Spotify when I fancy listening to my playlists, which I share and “Love” on Last.fm, and the best of *those* I purchase on iTunes.

    Will check out Grooveshark to see if it can fit anywhere into that little workflow (chillflow? 😛 )

  • I get an error when trying to play any of the songs, i tried with chrome and IE. Anyone else experiencing this?

    • It seems it was only temporary. It’s working fine now

  • psonar.com is a service whereby you upload your own music. I notice that the tracks you upload to Grooveshar ‘might take up to 24 hours to appear in your library’. With Psonar they’re pretty much instant.

    Agreed, you can’t stream copyeighted tracks that you don’t own, but with basic discovery and lots of social features on the way, it’s one to try.

    It’s also totally free to upload and store your entire library for ever too. Pretty good value compared to the other locker services out there.

  • Spotify and Last.fm all interchangably. Spotify when I fancy listening to my playlists

  • The easiest music player webapp i’ve found is – http://www.listu.be/
    the big advantage is that you can share your playlist and listen to them with your friends! (if you change your playlist while your friend is listening – his playlist will change automaticly!)

  • I am going to be the dissenting opinion here and say that Grooveshark was one of the worst services I have ever used. I tested it out for a month when napster announced that it was being sold to rhapsody. All the features available for grooveshark are available in rhapsody. The biggest problems I found with grooveshark are 1) the disorganization of the library. songs were often mislabeled. 2) When I searched for albums often times I would find 4 or 5 of the songs of an album and none of the rest. Those 4 or 5 songs were often the most popular and people just didn’t bother uploading the rest. 3) When I finally found a song I wanted often times it was either poor quality concert recording, a poor quality and noisy mp3, or just incomplete. Other users at the time were reporting getting viruses from listening to music on there. Honestly it was one of the worst streaming systems I ever used.