April 30, 2010

560 words 3 mins read

Quick Review: Grooveshark

Yesterday I ran into someone on IRC who suggested I give Grooveshark a try (Wikipedia entry). I’d never heard of it before, but I was told it was sorta similar to Pandora Radio. For those that don’t know, you give Pandora a song or artist and it creates a “radio” station of similar music and streams it to you. It is really quite cool, but you don’t have a lot of control over it. If it gives you a bunch of songs you don’t like, you can only skip so many per hour, then you’re stuck. I like Pandora, but some days I feel like having more control than it offers.

Along comes Grooveshark. Basically, it lets you search for and add tracks to your “queue”. You can search for and add almost anything you want. See, I’ve got a thing for J-Pop and Anime music which does not work on Pandora, or most major services (like iTunes and Amazon). I’d say about 90% of the tracks I wanted, were on the Shark. I was fairly impressed with the selection. I’d suspect it has something to do with the ability to allow users to upload their music. The only downside with this is that sometime there are multiple copies of tracks, and it doesn’t tell you the differences. That is one of the biggest issues I’ve seen so far, actually, the inability to see anything else about a track other than name, artist and album.

Of course, one of the features I’m really interested in is their “Radio”. It automatically adds songs to your queue based on (from what I can tell) what is currently in your queue. It isn’t just songs by the same artists, it is those in the same genre (Possibly the same “musical style” like Pandora, but I’ve got no idea). The issue I had with this is that I had one techno song in a pile of J-Pop and it repeatedly populated the (radio) next track with more techno. The techno showed up way more than you’d expect with a radio of 1 techno to 25 J-Pop. Though the radio function did play some kick ass anime songs that I liked, that I hadn’t searched for.

One major gripe: I get to a certain number of tracks in my queue and it gets “stuck”. It won’t add any more tracks via radio (in fact I cannot even turn the radio on/off), I can’t remove tracks from the queue, and I can’t manually add new tracks. The “work around” is to simply save what you have into a playlist and then delete the entire queue. After that it seems to work for a while. I’ve had it get re-stuck on me again, but the “work around” works again. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out the triggering factor for this, and cannot reliably replicate the error. So far Grooveshark hasn’t been able to replicate it either, as such… they can’t fix it.

Am I using it currently? Indeed, in fact I am using it as I write this entry.

Will I continue to use it? So far, I don’t see why not. An occasional glitch that I can work around is livable.

Will I pay for their “VIP” service? Maybe. The mobile application ability is a nice bonus (Pandora’s is free, but I don’t hold it against them).