I remember the first time I heard about Napster. I was a senior in high school and my curly headed eccentric friend introduced me to music piracy. I didn’t care that I was stealing music. Heck, I rationalized that I was doing the internet a favor. After all, it was certainly better than robbing a record store. And besides, I convinced myself that I would eventually buy the songs I listened to the most.
I thought Napster was beautiful. I would slurp down complete albums in hours without having to pay for anything. I was finding new music and being introduced to new genres. My conscience knew it was illegal but my desire to have the largest music library usurped my moral judgment.
But then Napster started to die and all the legal brouhaha surrounding the product gave me angst that the Feds would come knocking on my door.
So what did I do? I searched for an alternative.
Audiogalaxy won the day.
It did everything Napster did and more. But eventually my aural bliss ended. Audiogalaxy was heading in the same direction as Napster, download speeds were suffering and I started to fear the Feds again.
While all my friends were grandstanding about their voluminous music collections I was busy trying to clean up my hard drive. But I still was a broke college student with a famished desire for music.
Grooveshark satiated my appetite. I don’t remember exactly when i found out about the shark. I think I was a sophomore in college. I worked on campus in the Office of Computing Services and one of my co-workers was a big music guy.
He shared Grooveshark.com with me and I was hooked.
The best thing about Grooveshark was that there was no music client to download so I could listen to it anywhere I had a browser. Both Napster and AudioGalaxy required a small program through which users would search and download mp3s. But with Grooveshark, everything happened in the browser. Grooveshark also had a capacious library and if I couldn’t find the song on Youtube it was amlost always in Grooveshark. Audio quality was good.
I called it my free Spotify.
Grooveshark is dead
Whenever something I’ve used for ages dies I feel like a little piece of me goes with it. After the Winamp funeral, I didn’t know what would happen next. I later found out that Winamp didn’t really die but the Nullsoft announcement still affected me.
On April 30th 2015, Grooveshark officially pulled the plug. After being embroiled in lawsuits with Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music group, Grooveshark bid the world farewell with a simple post on its homepage: To be honest, I should have seen this coming.
Last September, US District Judge Thomas Griesa composed a 57 page opinion (PDF) that became the impetus of doom for Grooveshark.
Life without Grooveshark
So now what?
I immediately started asking myself:
Are there any quality Goooveshark alternatives on the interwebs?
I quickly discovered the answer is yes! In fact, there is one site in particular that I’m really starting to get into called NetEase.
But there’s one caveat:
The entire site is in Chinese and I don’t speak Chinese.
This might cause less motivated audiophiles to jettison the site from their memories; however, there are creative ways to circumvent the language barrier. I don’t how to read Chinese but Google Chrome does! Don’t let the language thing forestall your pursuit of free streaming music.
Easing into Netease
It’s called Netease or (music.163.com) and almost no one has heard of it.
The domain name 163.com is owned by a parent company called Netease which is one of the largest internet service providers in China. According to Alexia, the domain draws more internet traffic than CNN, ESPN and Apple.
If you visit the Netease Music Cloud player using Google Chrome, a translation bar will materialize directly beneath the omnibar.
Click Translate and you should see it in your language.
It failed the first time I did the translate thing but after trying it a second time everything showed up in English.
Firefox users can use the Quick Translator add-in to achieve the same effect.
Install the add-on, restart the browser and go back to the NetEase music cloud homepage.
Then just right click the page and choose Translate Whole Page from the context menu.
Using NetEase Cloud
It’s really straight forward. You don’t need to download anything or enter your email address or join the site. Just go to the homepage and start searching for songs.
Check this out: a quick search for Maroon 5 returned 300 singles.
Clicking the Albums tab displayed 43 albums.
I was even able to find music from obscure bands such as Eisley and Omni Trio. (so rare; dood doesn’t even own a website)
In the bottom portion of the screen you’ll find your standard playback controls. If you click the icon in the bottom right corner of the browser that looks like a tiny letter with a play button slapped on it, you can add songs to your playlist. You can even view the lyrics in your native language with Chinese subtitles.
How’s that for learning a new language.
And the lyrics are synchronized with the song. It’s pretty cool.
The Bottom Line
NetEase is a great Grooveshark alternative. Although the library is catered toward music endemic to Chinese culture, I bet if you gave it a chance you would find almost any song. It isn’t quite as robust as Youtube but let’s give it a chance!
So what do you think of the Grooveshark closing? Did you use Grooveshark? Is NetEase a viable alternative?