There still is an option for free music streaming after Last.fm radio which is now a paid service. And it works outside the US, UK and Germany too (yes, music lovers do exist elsewhere). Enter Grooveshark.
I signed up on Grooveshark when they were in private beta, sometime in 2007. And I just decided to check out how much the site has changed, and wow! They’ve come a long way. What used/aspired to be a legal P2P music sharing network is now a full-fledged web-based radio and music player.
Media Player (and the social works)
You can upload your local music collection and listen to it from anywhere (like Anywhere.fm that imeem acquired last year). This barely worked for me when I tried it a couple of years ago, but it’s flawless now.
And of course, you have all social works in the form of tags, friends etc… You can follow and add people with similar tastes to your friends list. Grooveshark also recommends similar users.
This is the best part. Search for a play any track. My artist searches all returned a decent amount of results. I usually found the track I wanted. (No silly 30 second samples! Yay). You can love, tag and share track or create and share playlists.
With autoplay switched on, Grooveshark will populate your playlist with tracks it thinks you might like based on what you’re listening to. And it’ll tailor the recommendations based on your feedback. It’s like Pandora or Last.fm, but works everywhere.
What this will eventually let me do is keep a collection of all the music I like (including those in my local collection) in one place, and I can listen to it all from any computer. Remember that cool song you heard the other day? No need to go watch that youtube video again. Add it as a favourite on Grooveshark.
Last.fm does a lot of the social stuff better, it’s a great service to bring people together around music. And it’s probably still better for creating your music profile and history. But Grooveshark really shines as a web-based music player and radio (and that’s what the interface seems to focus on as well). It brings to mind a web-based version of Spotify, and lets you add your local music library as a bonus too. Yes, I’ve mentioned many names in this post, but the service does come off as a cross between Pandora, Last.fm, Anywhere.fm and Spotify.
This isn’t a review - I still need to spend more time on Grooveshark for that. But for what it is, Grooveshark is very well done and I can imagine spending a lot of time going from track to track, and discovering new music. I only have two things on my wishlist: last.fm scrobbling support and an iPhone app for music on the go. ;)
P.S. And if you happen to be on or sign up for Grooveshark, I’m ramkumar over there.