Grooveshark has licensing deal with Sony/ATV

Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.

With the announcement last week that Grooveshark signed a licensing agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the online music streaming service now has deals with the two largest music publishers even while continuing to try to fend off a lawsuit by the record label arms of the companies.

The Gainesville company said in a news release that it reached a settlement with Sony/ATV that resolves all matters and disputes. That followed an announcement earlier in August that it reached a similar deal with EMI Music Publishing.

The music publishers own songwriting rights, so the deals mostly apply to cover songs - versions of original songs covered by another artist - or songs that use samples from original music.

The record labels still own the original recording rights, so the deals with Grooveshark do not include recordings owned by Sony and EMI.

Still, CEO Sam Tarantino said the publishing rights are just as important to Grooveshark, which serves the niche interests of thousands of users and is does rely on the biggest hits.

“We have hundreds of thousands of people that are coming on board, many of which are artists, and a lot of those artists are doing covers, so it’s a big deal,” he said by phone Tuesday.

Two more big licensing deals are in the works, he said.

Grooveshark is a free service that streams songs uploaded by users. It makes its revenues largely from advertising and artist promotions.

Universal Music Group has sued the company in federal and state court alleging copyright violations and are joined in the federal suit by Sony Music and Warner Music Group.

In 2012, EMI records was purchased by Universal and its publishing branch was purchased by Sony/ATV.

Tarantino, who founded Grooveshark with Chief Technology Officer Josh Greenberg in 2006 while both were students at the University of Florida, recently moved to New York City where he is building a business office.

“We’re making progress on all fronts,” he said.

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