Grooveshark Asks Users To Subscribe, Or Else, Unskippable Ads

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 28, 2012
Updated • Mar 28, 2012

There is nothing wrong with financing a service or website with advertisement. There will always be users who will use ad blockers or other scripts to get rid of those ads, but the majority will understand that these are what pay the bills and keep the site going. The wrong kind of advertisement on a site can have an ill-effect on the site's reputation. The wrong kind in this regard refers both to what the ads try to sell, their placement, or type.

Grooveshark, ever since it has been introduced in 2007,  monetized the site with ads and subscriptions. Ads were displayed as banners on the page, and subscriptions for Grooveshark Plus or Grooveshark Anywhere got rid of them, and added new features to the music streaming service at the same time.  This includes access to the Grooveshark desktop app, or unlimited Grooveshark access on the mobile app.

Grooveshark Changes

Matthew A. Hansen was one of the first Grooveshark users who reported about a more aggressive monetization strategy on Grooveshark. According to his information, Grooveshark displayed a Keep the music going screen to him which explained that operating the service costs money, and that Grooveshark because of this is asking for support.

keep the music going

Options available here were to pay money for an uninterrupted experience, or select the $0 option to continue the free ride. Matthew did select the free option, which lead to a video engagement ad that was shown to him. This was a 40 second YouTube video that started to play right away. While pausing and skipping is possible, a message is displayed in this case that is explaining that credits are not given if the video is not watched from the beginning to the end.

grooveshark video ad

We have detected that you have tried to skip part of the video. You will not get credit if you skip around the video. Please watch the video from the beginning through the end

It appears that Grooveshark is rolling out a credit-based system for free users of the service. It is not really clear how much credits users get when they watch the video, and for how long they can listen to music on Grooveshark with a credit.

Watching a single video gives credits that are good for listening to four hours of music on the Grooveshark website.

I tried to get the video ad to be displayed on Grooveshark for the better half of an hour and did not succeed. This could mean a number of things, like that it is still being rolled out to all users, that it is only active for registered users, or that you need to listen more than that to see the ad.

I do not think that $2 for a month of music is too much to ask for on the other hand, even with all the free alternatives available on today's Internet.  Forcing ads on users on the other hand is not the way to go forward. Many will probably leave Grooveshark for other services instead of paying up for uninterrupted music on the site.

What's your take on this?


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  1. Rick said on April 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    They have slowly been making it more annoying to visit this site, the last few weeks I have noticed a lot of albums that I had created playlists from being removed. And now the unskippable ads, I use this at work and used to enjoy how fast it was to get music playing, now I will be switching to another service because this blows.

  2. fancy said on March 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I recommended Grooveshark to 10-12 people in the last 18 months. Now I have to hear endless crap from them because this sucks. As others have noted, you either have adblock going and can’t easily conform or you don’t and deal with video ads on a music site (with alarming volume and content changes).

    I’m switching fulltime to Google Music — uploading my library now so I can search and play it for free from anywhere.

  3. MCPants said on March 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Goodbye, Grooveshark. Nice to have known you!

  4. christine said on March 30, 2012 at 5:30 am

    i didn’t even get a video ad, i was re-directed a site with one of those fake “virus detected” pop-ups. Wtf, grooveshark??

  5. Cameron said on March 30, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I am happy to suppor them! From a consumer standpoint, this is ridiculously fair for what Grooveshark provides. At the end of the day they provide an incredible service. Just need to remember to keep things in perspective…

    1. Jennifer said on April 2, 2012 at 12:46 am

      True. I’ve been a user of the service since 2008 and love the service. It makes more sense to just subscribe for $6 a month and forget about all the ad interruptions. I use the service everyday and love it.

  6. Noscript said on March 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Just use noscript with firefox. I see no video ads, have no limitations.

  7. Anonymous said on March 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I refuse to suffer through video ads and I don’t use the service enough to justify a monthly cost. I’m gone.

  8. Stupid Move said on March 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Back to YouTube, I guess.

  9. Brian said on March 29, 2012 at 6:39 am

    I accessed Grooveshark with Chrome and noticed today the forced video ad. I went there with Firefox, which I have NoScript installed, and the forced ads were not there. So for now, it’s as simple as blocking the new scripts and you don’t have to deal with the ads.

  10. Lake said on March 29, 2012 at 4:15 am

    I would begrudgingly accept this new stupidity, but I even attempted to let the damn video play, and the “Resume playback” button never activated. So where does that leave me? Anybody else have this problem?

  11. Andrea said on March 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I’m switching from Grooveshark because I have an ad-blocker installed on all my browsers. When I select the ‘free’ option to watch the video for Grooveshark, the ad that I’m supposed to watch gets blocked and there’s no way for me to proceed forward. Rather than re-tool my ad-block settings for one site, I think I’ll just switch to Spotify.

    1. Emily said on March 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      You can get around it on firefox by just quitting firefox and restarting it. I use chrome for everything else so it’s not a hassle for me to do that. But yeah, they might be losing me as a listener…

    2. A Side Note said on March 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      You can get around the ads by not logging in (for those of us in the work place with video content blocked)

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on March 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      They are probably seeing a good chunk of users leaving their service after the integration. May still turn out to be beneficial for them.

  12. Rick said on March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Maybe it’s because I’m using GrooveShredder or YesScript, but I see the same old Grooveshark without any of the ad process that is described.

    Anyone else not seeing the changes?

  13. tiddus said on March 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    It sounds fair I suppose, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.

  14. Jim said on March 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Either way it’s less advertising than listening to the radio.

  15. Yoav said on March 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Sounds fair enough to me.

  16. ilev said on March 28, 2012 at 9:57 am

    “It is not really clear how much credits users get when they watch the video, and for how long they can listen to music on Grooveshark with a credit.”

    Accoring to the message displayed, watching the video gives you 4 hours of uninterrupted music.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 28, 2012 at 10:01 am

      You are right, I have added the information to the article. Thanks!

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