Starting today (Oct. 17), controversial streaming music service Grooveshark has a stylish new look that matches its generous music features.
Album art has been added to song titles, and drag-and-drop is possible throughout the site, making it easy to move songs to the player and customize your playlists. The new version of Grooveshark has borrowed some social ideas from sites like Twitter and Spotify, so listeners can "follow" their favorite artists and see what their friends are listening to at any given moment.
And Grooveshark hasn't lost the features that gave it an edge over its competition. There are still no ads. Listeners can choose a streaming radio format based on their previous listening choices, or they can build unlimited playlists. They can skip as many songs as they'd like and upload their own music. And it's all free.
Grooveshark has run into trouble from record labels because of its upload capabilities. The warning reminding users that they must have the rights to upload songs has not kept the 5-year-old company from being sued. And, it has had no success in getting reinstated in the Google Play Store or receiving approval from Apple. But a quick search for Grooveshark Mobile on your Android or iPhone will result in a button that can be added to your home screen for instant access to the Web site.
However, in today's reincarnation, Grooveshark has given artists more control over their music, including the ability to claim their artist profiles, add and delete their own tracks and communicate with fans on the site. While these moves won't do much to appease the labels, they could make independent artists happy.
Further, the company has partnered with Flattr, a social micropayment site, so listeners can support artists. Fans put money in their Flattr account and can then "flattr" as many artists as they'd like in a month. The funds are divided up evenly among designated artists. Say you allot $10 a month and "flattr" 20 bands — similar to using the Facebook "like" button. But a click to flattr means artists get a little more than just a thumbs-up. At the end of the month, each band would receive $0.50 from your account.
The new Grooveshark will be available to the public by Nov. 1, but you may preview it now.