Friday, December 11, 2009

Number 1: State of Grooveshark

My first order of business: The State of Grooveshark. By now everyone knows that I'm obsessed with Grooveshark, but while being their "biggest fan", I'm also their worst enemy. Now, I do not "work" for Grooveshark but I would say that I know more than almost every user out there that uses Grooveshark.  Here is what I think:

  1. Grooveshark is awesome! There are many sites where you can listen to free music and many where you can listen to paid music, but so far, I have found nothing better. Grooveshark has a very simple interface, works on my PS3 (as of last week), will be coming to my mobile phone and runs 8-10 hours a day on my desktop. Overall the experience is good and without my music I cannot work. All good things have to come to an end though....
  2. Licensing. You knew that this was coming. Basically if Grooveshark doesn't have the license for a piece of music and the RIAA scans and finds the song on Grooveshark they send a notice to Grooveshark which, in turn sends a notice to the user who uploaded the song and removes their upload privileges. From their standpoint, under DMCA law, they are required to warn the user because on the second notice, Grooveshark is required to remove the offending account. So in a sense they are protecting the user from him/herself. This has caused an outcry from users because they cannot upload songs (including me and some Grooveshark employees) and they cannot get a VIP refund (see Refunds). Users are also complaining that they never received the DMCA notice, which while Grooveshark says that this is incorrect and they must have; there are quite a few users saying this and thus I must believe it to be true. Which leads into my next point...
  3. Support. Grooveshark is overloaded. They have all their employees working on either new features or bugs and leave Ben up to support. While I try my best to help on Twitter and GetSatisfaction, I'm on the outside and the actual bugs that I can help with are small. I can help users with finding things and learning how to use Grooveshark, but when it comes to a browser problem or bug, I'm basically useless. The GetSatisfaction site is basically useless because the only few people that still actively respond (despite multiple employees receiving a feed of new content) have dwindled down to me and Jay. I discussed a forum a few months ago and it was apparently "close" but I assume with mobile and 2.0 development has ceased. I personally consider support and user-interaction to be the #1 attribute to success and the way the Grooveshark is treating theirs does not lead to success.
  4. New Features are most important. Not. Maybe it is just me, but I consider functionality to me more important than features. Grooveshark may be functional, but there are many shortcomings and bugs. The latest mobile apps (especially for Android) have been plagued with bugs for some users. I understand those things happen at first but some of the bugs I'm reading about shouldn't be happening. Grooveshark 2.0 was a vast and by far the greatest product that Grooveshark as publically released. Now that they are finished with that, why not dedicate some time to fixing some things... There are many small things that I have noticed and most of them; reported:

    • While Grooveshark is pre-fetching a song, hover over the next song in the queue and it appears as if it is the one playing.
    • The scroll bar for the {username} dropdown is cut off the in AIR app.
    • While listening to radio, if you "Frown" a song, it moves to the next song, but "Frown" is not displayed, nor is the song removed from the queue (despite this working in 1.0).
    • Songs randomly cut and move to the next song (note: this could possibly be a Flash bug)
    • When loading stops before finishing (stream is disconnected), the song stops playing and you must go to the next song and back to restart. It should not be hard to realize that the Content-size != Downloaded-Size and you should restart the stream.
    • Widgets do not work if you send them using the Clearspring app.
    • Scroll is horribly inconsistent (could be Flash again)
    • Inconsistent song volume (might be hard to solve but still)
    • Favorites not appearing in mobile app
    • Playlists are not syncing with grooveshark.com despite being updated on mobile app
    Those may seem unimportant and small to all of you, but they add up and most of them are quite easy to fix.
Maybe with me being "out of the loop" I'm missing some major factors, but I don't think so. Those are just my thoughts, whether they are harsh or not..., well they are, but sometimes that is what a company needs. But, what am I saying, I'm a kid, Grooveshark is a company, this won't do much.

Thanks,
James Hartig

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