Grooveshark 2.0 Keeps Getting Better

My favorite online streaming music service just keeps on getting better. Today Grooveshark gave their VIP members a peek at their new 2.0 release.

Grooveshark 2.0 Screenshot

According to their blog post these are a few of the major enhancements.

  1. A brand new interface: almost everything has changed in the visual look and feel
  2. Add any song on Grooveshark to your library without uploading
  3. Sorting: You can now sort lists by Song Name, Artist Name or Album Name
  4. Drag-and-drop playlist editing
  5. Themes: Make Grooveshark look the way you want
  6. Improved player: more room for your songs
  7. Better caching: back and next should be much faster now
  8. Seeking: now you can skip to your favorite part of a song with the click of a mouse.

Seeking in Grooveshark 2.0
The seek bar lets you jump to any point in a song.

Left side navigation Grooveshark 2.0
The left side navigation lets you seperate different groups of music for easy access.

Bigger album art Grooveshark 2.0
Bigger album art puts the current playlist front and center.

The new interface is a joy to use. The new sorting options and the ability to jump around to any point in the song make Grooveshark like an online version of iTunes that has an Internet-wide shared library. Bigger album art is a nice upgrade over the thumbnails used in the old interface. It used to be a pain going through your favorite songs but now you can add them to your library (which has much more robust sorting options) with the click of the music note icon. New themes are interesting to keep things fresh. I imagine there will be dozens more added over the next few months.

One of the new features I stumbled on that wasn’t mentioned everywhere were RSS feeds. Right now there are three: Songs I Favorite, Songs I Listen to, My Zeitgeist (which is empty at the moment). It would be nice to see Grooveshark automatically send song info to your Last.fm account.

The only other feature really missing from Grooveshark is a hook in the player for controlling it with global shortcuts. I would really love to set up a key combo to play/pause, skip tracks, and favorite tracks without ever bringing the app into focus. The best part is how Grooveshark listens to their community through Get Satisfaction.

I’m confident this is only the beginning of improvements and I’m glad I plunked down my $30 for a year of VIP membership.

Move Over Pandora, Hello Grooveshark

I’ve been a long time fan of Pandora, an automated music recommendation and Internet radio service. Users enter a song or artist that they like, and Pandora responds by playing similiar music. The recommendations come from the Music Genome Project, a complex mathematical algorithm to organize songs using more than 400 attributes. You can give a song a thumbs up or thumbs down to help tweak the station to your liking. Pandora has been my sole source of music while at work. Programs like PandoraBoy for the Mac and Open Pandora for Windows turn the web player into a standalone desktop app complete with keyboard shortcuts. Pandora offers it’s own standalone application with higher quality sound and no ads for $36 a year.

While the musical recommendations have been very good, my radio stations quickly become stale. The same songs keep coming up again and again and the only way to rectify it is to create a new station. You also can’t search out a song and play it on demand. You give Pandora a song or artist to use as a seed for generating similiar songs that make up your station.

Compare this with Grooveshark which provides the ability to listen to single songs from the 7-million song catalog on demand, save playlists, and embed both on other sites; all for free. The user interface borrows heavily from the iPhone with sliding menus and a minimalist design. The application is a cinch to use.

Grooveshark interface screenshot

Hovering over a song brings up four small icons: play, add to queue, more info, and embed. The more info menu brings up more options like browsing the artist or song, adding it to a playlist or your favorite list that you can recall later, and a list of similiar songs. After you get tired of looking up every song you can think of, make use of the autoplay feature which keeps the songs coming based on your listening history. You can also like/dislike songs which Grooveshark suggests to further tune your song list. You can see it in action below thanks to ben westermann-clark:

Grooveshark is reminiscent of the golden age of Napster where nearly every song was available at your fingertips only without downloading anything. What’s the legality of Grooveshark? I’m not really sure, but the company claims to have license agreements with a long list of record labels. It doesn’t really matter since you can use the site without signing up, which you only have to do if you want to save songs or playlists.

The only thing Grooveshark is missing is a desktop client with keyboard shortcuts though it sounds like that is coming sometime real soon. In the meantime I’ll just use Fluid or Mozilla Prism with a nice custom icon to complete the effect. It seems crazy to use any other online or offline music client now that I’ve gotten to know Grooveshark.