Music for the masses

Grooveshark is a free online jukebox service that not only offers on-demand playback of millions of songs, but includes album art, fully functional playlists, and a chart of most popular plays.

In the turbulent, choppy waters where P2P networks and copyright law chomp at each other's fins for dominance, there's at least one beast that thinks it has a solution to keep everybody happy. Its name: Grooveshark. Grooveshark is a free online jukebox service where users can search for tracks and listen to them through a Web-based player that can be controlled just like a software jukebox application. The best part, however, is that Grooveshark manages to keep itself lawsuit-free by making sure that everyone gets paid.

As content distribution has mutated from analog to digital, the companies that came into existence to control the distribution have panicked and floundered. Grooveshark's solution is to secure distribution rights from the copyright holders, but then to also reimburse those who upload content. Throw in free streaming and DRM-free downloads for 99 cents a song, garnish with community forums and outreach to independent musicians, serve with a side of cross-platform use that includes the Big Three of Windows, Mac, and multiple flavors of Linux, and we may be looking at the future of file sharing.

As you can tell from its Web site, Grooveshark includes all the major music discovery tools. There's a player in the upper-right corner; a centralized search bar; uncluttered tabs for keeping your friends and tunes organized; recommendation tools; tagging capability; private messaging; applications for MySpace, Facebook, and the iPhone; and the all-important account for watching your funds dwindle as you blow beaucoup de bucks on digital music. Sure, there may be ads, but this ensures you that someone is getting paid, which--along with the fact that Grooveshark's been operating for more than two years--reduces the chance that you'll suddenly find it gone overnight. All in all, we see no reason why you shouldn't give this Web service a shot.

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