Standing Next To The Grooveshark Sales Funnel

image from Look. You can scratch, claw, scream, and bitch about Grooveshark and services like it all you want, but fans don't care. I'm not saying its morally correct, but the average fan doesn't care if artists are getting paid for streams. Fans don't care if the labels make money off Grooveshark. Most of all, fans don't care if Grooveshark makes money off of Grooveshark. They want to stream music – for free – and don't care where they do it. Whatever site lets them do what they want to do is where they'll go. They don't read the news. They don't even know what being DMCA compliant means. All they want is the ability to play some songs and get on with their day. Eventually, they'll get what they want. It's just a matter of time.

If Grooveshark gets shutdown, as some have suggested might happen to them, none of their users are going to wake up that day and think about how much they missed purchasing songs from iTunes. A majority of the songs that they stored on their profiles aren't songs that they want. They aren't songs that they will turn around and purchase and put on their iPods for a $1 the moment they're denied access to them. They're songs that the moment they can't hear them, they'll ask a tech savvy friend where else they can. Then they'll just listen to them on there.

Tech Savvy Friend

Everyone from age 16 to 24 knows someone that's hip to the latest thing and that friend isn't going tell him or her that they're a soulless asshole for stealing music or that through their behavior they're undermining the production of creative works.

No. They'll tell them where to get their music and even if they won't – someone else will. How else did Grooveshark get popular? Do you think it's because kids in high school are suddenly privy to typing "free music streaming" in Google and Grooveshark topped the list? Likely, someone told them about it and they went there. Once there, all of those MP3s that they downloaded before seemed like a pretty stupid idea.  All they wanted was the ability to hear a few specific songs while doing stuff on their computer and move on. They weren't trying to thwart the corporate record labels or protesting that the Internet should be free and open.

Nope. They just want to stream some songs and Grooveshark lets them do that.

Not everyone downloads music for the sake of getting it for free. There are people who desire to do a few specific things and once they have the ability to do them without utilizing less the legal means, they'll sign-up for Grooveshark and stream their songs. This is why Grooveshark is getting popular. Few years back, I got a Grooveshark account. I had a tech savvy friend. He told me about Grooveshark.

Songs Like Bookmarkers

At this point, I have upwards of 300 songs on Grooveshark. They fulfill a different chasm in my music collection. They're like bookmarkers. I like these songs. I like the artists. But I'm sorry, like many Grooveshark users, I don't desire to purchase them. It's nothing personal. I do believe in supporting artists. I understand that if I really loved the songs that I should purchase them and support the artist that created them. However, I value them to the extent to which I value songs that I've given "Thumbs Up" to on Pandora or "Loved" on Slacker. They're a part of my music collection in a difference sense. They operate in the void. Grooveshark is like purgatory; it's the space between the unknown and my music collection. I don't know how long the songs will rest there before they make it onto my iPod.

However, if I was a little younger and didn't have an iPod (and quite obviously, I wasn't a music industry writer), I might find a way to get those 300 songs on my computer. But since I have Grooveshark, there's no need for that. In my terms, this is equivalent of standing next to the sales funnel. All Grooveshark users can be targeted with marketing. But if they had resorted to getting their songs through a different means, like LimeWire Pirate Edition, they're off your radar. You've got no idea who they are. Obviously Grooveshark users like the service because it's only getting more popular. If you shut the site down and turn those users away, the next thing they stand next to won't be a sales funnel. It will be the next thing.

Users will migrate to the next thing. Nothing changes. They'll still want to stream. – Kyle Bylin

More: Grooveshark Rises In Popularity – So Now What?

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  1. Well, this was a refreshing, bottom-line take on the state of streaming music. I particularly liked the purgatory analogy. That purgatory is like a free trial without expiration. Eventually, if the listener really connects with the artist, maybe they will spring for a purchase, but in the meantime, many of those newer artists should cling to the day jobs.

  2. What you say is absolutely true and i see why Grooveshark works for most people. The problem i have with it though is the fact that their library basically is built by users uploading music with often doubtful source and quality. The audio quality is random and changes depending on what the user decided to upload, tagging is a mess, duplicates all over the place. i see that this isn’t what you focused on in your post, but i think it’s important to mention that grooveshark is far from being a legitimite source for music. Legal? maybe, but you’d have to blame the users for their uploads if you want to argue that Grooveshark is doing nothing wrong. In fact they are not that different from a torrent tracker.
    Don’t get me wrong, i have no problem with that – i’m a musician and user of the private tracker, which is heaven for music enthusiasts. I’d love to pay for a service like that, which leaves iTunes & co. years behind. Grooveshark isn’t an alternative though. not for me at least.

  3. Here’s what I don’t get… the point of your article is that users can be marketed to, and stand next to a funnel. Yet, throughout the article you make the point that these people don’t care, they’re only there because they don’t want to buy the stuff, and they will still want to stream.
    What exactly is being marketed to them? In your last article, you stated specifically that it was about the option to buy the mp3. In today’s article, you’re trying to speak on the same exact subject, but saying that people won’t buy the mp3. So which is it?
    On a similar note, what can you market to people that don’t even like your music enough to want to own it? I think you make a good analogy with purgatory, but if a band is only good enough to hang around in your purgatory, are you going to see a show? Buy their merch? Tell your friends about them? Nope, because they’re only good enough for your purgatory.
    I know what you mean about one streaming service going down and another popping up, and how everybody will always find a way to get what they want for free with no thought whatsoever of the law or the rules, but your whole “funnel” theory still isn’t taking flight.

  4. Great article, Kyle. I’m a big fan of Grooveshark and a lot of what you’re saying about user behavior makes a lot of sense.
    The law is just really confusing – the DMCA is a piece of shit. Grooveshark definitely SHOULD exist, with the cooperation of the labels, because of all of the things you say. The labels should not be afraid of the service, and should not make licensing agreements so tough on them. (To a previous commenter’s point, there is a lot of inconsistency in the quality of tracks and even meta-data, so it doesn’t threaten my willingness to buy songs on iTunes or amazon, or even cancel my subscription to
    However, Grooveshark’s website is 100% legal, even if the activity that takes place among its users is not. This is what my problem is. The DMCA protects a site like Grooveshark, even when the vast majority of behavior on that site is technically illegal. This is a major problem with online content, and it’s tough to see a resolution. It’s kind of like the way that Republicans probably want to pass the 9-11 responders bill, but to do so would mean that Democrats did something good, so they block it. Grooveshark did something good, and it has a lot of value, but because they didn’t play by the label’s rules, they’re going to try and shut them down.

  5. Look. You can scratch, claw, scream, and bitch about real estate and services like it all you want, but the homeless don’t care. I’m not saying its morally correct, but the average homeless person doesn’t care if real estate agents and home owners are getting paid for houses. The homeless don’t care if the home owners make money off real estate agents. Most of all, the homeless don’t care if home owners makes money off of real estate agents. They want to live in a house – for free – and don’t care how they get about doing that. Whatever country that lets them do what they want to do is where they’ll go. They don’t read the news papers (they use them to keep warm). They don’t even know what being “real estate property” compliant means. All they want is the ability to live in some cool hip place and get on with their day partying like hell. Eventually, they’ll get what they want. It’s just a matter of time. 😉

  6. See, I’m a loyal GS user and I vehemently dispute that GS users don’t buy stuff. I do, ALL. THE. TIME. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I *didn’t* use Grooveshark to buy a track. Grooveshark provides direct links to Amazon and iTunes that are effortless to use, they take you right to the track you want (at least they do on Amazon; I boycott iTunes so I couldn’t testify as to that!), so if you’re set up w/ the Amazon downloader already and use 1-click, you’re done.
    The 2 reasons people use Grooveshark, in my opinion, over other streaming services are (1) it’s INTERNATIONAL, so that hot new release from the UK that everyone is Tweeting about will show up there MONTHS before it does on any other US-based service; and (2) It’s so damn EASY to BUY stuff off of Grooveshark.
    Give us the PRODUCT we want, WHEN we want it, and make it EASY to buy. Whichever streaming service figures this out the fastest will be the one that ultimately wins.

  7. all of this is transitional, though it is transiting with glacial slowness.
    record labels are an artifact of a time when recording, copying and distribution technologies were capital intensive. now, all three can be done from a laptop at nearly no cost.
    apologies to Europe’s smallest record label, but what need is there of a record label anymore? the only residual value is in organized promotion — controlling the access to get music into a legacy pipeline that is atrophying but still considerable.
    musicians are eventually going to discover that they are no worse off (indeed probably better off) self-recording, self-distributing and self-promoting by using a service like grooveshark not as a revenue stream but for free advertising for their real product.
    and what is that product? music is going back to the business model it survived on for millennia before the invention of publishing. money will be in controlling access to the irreplicable experience of live performance. everything before we get to that end is transitional, old systems and modes convulsing and dying, clinging to legislative recourse where the marketplace has irrevocably passed them by.

  8. Dumbest comment ever. Kudos. Does this place that lets you record, mix, and master music for free have unicorn rides too?

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