What do you do when you’re banned from the Facebook App Store, Apple’s App Store and Google Play? By launching an in-browser mobile player, of course! And that’s exactly what controversial music streaming service Grooveshark has done.
Long suspected of shady music practices that both music labels and musicians, Grooveshark has been in and out of lawsuits for suspected violations of copyright infringement and failure to pay royalties for years.
Grooveshark’s browser app has been built in HTML5, and leaves behind crash-prone Adobe Flash. According to the company, users can search, discover, and play more than 15 million songs from any mobile device, or listen to genre-based stations and listen to tracks shared by friends.
In one respect, the app stores bans are a blessing in disguise. Managing the app and implementing new features on the browser app doesn’t require the hard coding and different languages that would otherwise be necessary to maintain native apps for Android, iOS and, soon, Windows Phone 8 devices. Rather, the company will simply have to add additional code depending on the browsers supported.
When testing out the app ourselves, we noticed that the app sticks the user experience that we’re used to from a native app. We can sign into our profile and view our existing content, from saved playlists, to favorites, followers, and users that we’re following. All said, it functions much like it would like a Spotify app. But as a browser app, it has its limitations. Features like the ability to slide your fingers to move pages from left to right or visa-versa is lost, and there’s a slight but noticeable delay when interacting with the app.
If you like the convenience of a button that opens up the app, you can do so by adding the site to your Home Screen on your iPhone.
Unlike Spotify and Pandora, which negotiate and pay for the rights to stream libraries of music from music labels like Universal Music, EMI, Sony and Warner Music Group, Grooveshark enables its users to upload their own music onto its platform and share that content with other Grooveshark users. The company claims that this strategy allows it to bypass the need to pay royalties to musicians and music labels. Theoretically, Grooveshark imparts the accountability of uploading infringing music to its users. Of course in practice, the accountability may ultimately lie with Grooveshark, which claims to abide by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — a belief backed by the courts on at least one occasion so far.
There hasn’t been an official explanation for why Grooveshark has been banned from app stores, but it’s evident that the very public copyright infringement claims mounting against the service, Apple, Google, and Facebook aren’t taking any chances with supporting Grooveshark. Still, Grooveshark hasn’t been deterred as its browser app first launched in the United States on Wednesday, with an international launch due in the coming months.