The head of Grooveshark Sam Tarrantino recently did an interview with Evolver to explain why his company—which streams music without paying artists and without permission—is not “dodgy”. Grooveshark is of course of doubtful legality and defending its business in court right now.
Tarrantino argued 6 main points in his defence. He didn’t mention the fact that he’s living off the music he plays for free (Spotify’s Daniel Ek is worth £300 million).
1. Record labels want too much money
Music licenses were established for traditional radio, TV, video and live performance. Those businesses have always paid up, otherwise they get shut down. Online companies like iTunes, YouTube and Spotify also pay music licenses.
If they can’t make make money that is not the artists’ problem.
2. Musicians already get paid more by touring
That’s not always true but even so it doesn’t mean the music is free (see 1.).
3. The music business is too slow and partially broken
Tarrantino favours 360° deals. He’s not in the record business but considers himself knowledgeable about how artists should be paid. Just not paid by him, obviously.
4. Grooveshark is modelled on early YouTube
YouTube is now licensed but Tarantino points out that YouTube hosts unlicensed content such as The Beatles. He seems to be arguing that two wrongs make a right.
5. Grooveshark complies with takedowns
In point 4 Tarrantino argued that unlicensed material is OK, now he says he takes it down. But we know Grooveshark doesn’t takedown effectively (and neither does YouTube).
6. Grooveshark’s ad platform can boost an unknown band
Is he really suggesting that screwing some artists is OK because he’s promoting other artists? Yes, he is. He has 30 million users and thinks that’s a great asset for promoting new bands as long as everyone is happy to give him free content.
Or maybe he really thinks Grooveshark is going to make him £300 million. That seems a lot more likely than his 6 rather confused points. Did he convince you?