Grooveshark Finds Out What Happens When Music Is Free (For One Band)


When we met Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino last year, he was strumming a guitar in his office. Then he expounded at length on why he thinks recorded music should be free. One big reason: Bands make their money from touring anyway, so it doesn’t make sense to pay rightsholders similar rates to what Spotify pays.

Agree or disagree, this is the principle that drives Grooveshark. This week, the company revealed data from a little experiment it conducted in free music. In order to prove the value of its platform to promote bands so that they can make money in other ways, Grooveshark teamed up with a band called Quiet Company in July 2011 to see what would happen if Grooveshark “promote[d] the band in any way they saw fit,” in return for the band giving away its music.

The results are in, and Grooveshark shared them with (and my pal Mike Masnick) in the form of the below infographic.

The main takeaways:

Quiet Company’s revenue from live shows doubled during the experiment.
The band won over ten awards and earned “private investors” — fans who are willing to bankroll it on some level in return for a piece of the action.
Grooveshark’s promotions bled over to other sites. Its popularity exploded: over 367K percent on Grooveshark, 4.5K percent on Facebook, 2.1K percent on Facebook, and 95 percent on Twitter, with plenty of new international fans finding out about them too.

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