For years, Grooveshark has been wrapped up in legal battles with the four major music labels and independent artists for streaming their music without obtaining a license. Users can even upload and stream music, a feature that makes it difficult for Grooveshark to honor DMCA takedown requests. The service has gotten so controversial that Apple, Facebook and Google have removed Grooveshark apps from their app stores.
Now the company seems to be making a move to pacify those music labels by offering a paid service called "Broadcasts" for mobile devices. This new music app is slated to launch in January 2015 for iOS and Android users and will cost a mere $0.99 per month. For this fee, users can listen to their uploaded music as well as tunes provided by other Grooveshark members without advertisements.
NASDAQ reports that the $0.99 fee will be used to pay government-mandated royalty fees. This is the same system used by Pandora and other music streaming services. "We're trying to show that we're doing everything we possibly can to be a legitimate player here," said Grooveshark Chief Executive Sam Tarantino.
This Broadcasts service will join Grooveshark's premium subscription service, which costs $9 per month or $90 per year. As with Broadcasts, there are no advertisements. However, this paid subscription also includes customizable site skins, priority email support, additional space, access to the desktop app and more. This service also provides access to Android (side-load) and jailbroken iOS device apps.
News of the new mobile service arrives after Grooveshark's co-founders were found guilty of uploading almost 6,000 songs that didn't have a proper license and covering their tracks. According to the NASDAQ report, Tarantino and co-founder Josh Greenberg didn't obtain licenses because record companies were giving Grooveshark a hard time in regards to permissions for using the songs. The record labels wanted "sizeable financial guarantees."
Tarantino said that the record companies wanted the two co-founders to build the service first and then come back for permissions. But as Tarantino pointed out, Grooveshark needed money to gain licenses, but the site also needed licenses to make money. Grooveshark investors eventually refused to hand over cash thanks to the ongoing lawsuits.
Will Broadcasts for iOS and Android bring in some needed cash? Tarantino thinks so if enough people sign on. He also believes that Broadcasts will change the way digital audio is provided, and could even challenge Pandora, which currently has almost 80 million users. Grooveshark only has 30 million users, according to the report.
Would you pay for a music streaming service for $0.99 per month? The deal sounds great, but will it eventually be hurt by the ongoing legal battles? For more information about the Broadcast service on the desktop, head here.