Considering the numerous legal battles that Grooveshark has experienced over the last few months concerning EMI and Universal Music Group, the site has encountered a number of different problems which has threatened its existence. The last one happened back in January when the site was shut down in Germany after German performance rights organisation GEMA pressurised them.
Now, the site has now resorted to scrapping its free service and asking users to pay $4 a month for access to its music database. Users who have accessed the site have encountered a new pop-up window where the makers of Grooveshark ask for support. The text reads:
Our vision for Grooveshark never included charging users for basic access, but rising costs may force us to shut down in your country as we recently did in Germany.
We need your support. In order to stay open, we're asking every user to pay $4/month (USD) for access to Grooveshark.
With your help, we can continue to operate in your country--providing you with millions of songs, playlists, favourites, featured artists, and everything else you love about us.
Thanks for your support and understanding,
Below it is a link entitled "Keep the music going," where users can sign up for the service. Considering the fact that Grooveshark was shut down in Germany because it would incur "disproportionately high operating costs" if it kept operating in the country, it was a case that the site has to either bite the bullet and charge users or shut down their entire operation.
Originally users paid for a subscription service so that they could get rid of the pop-up advertisements but it's possible that their premium services (for Grooveshark Plus, its $6/month or $60 for annual subscription while Grooveshark anywhere costs $9/month or $90 for annual subscription) will increase in price to reflect this change.
Charging users isn't a new step for Grooveshark, they did that for their first two years of existence, but it will greatly hurt their business plan (gain 100 million unique visitors and then simultaneously pay labels for their songs while charging them for listenership metrics) as casual users will begin to migrate towards other music services.
When Grooveshark was shut down in Germany, they recommended users to try out the music service Simfy
as a replacement, yet if they encounter the same resistance that they did in Germany in other countries, Grooveshark could find themselves in a difficult position that they've no way of recovering from.