First published on 30 Mar 2011. Updated on 23 Jun 2011.
Name Originally known as 'EMUMO' (short for 'Earn Music and Money' - straightforward enough), before its name was changed to 'Xiami' (which literally translates as 'dried shrimp' - slighly more esoteric).
History In 2006, Wang Hao quit his job at internet buying and selling empire Alibaba, and created Xiami. Don't let the homepage fool you - Xiami has a great collection of music beyond Mandopop. Users upload their own collections in exchange for downloads.
Streaming speed Extremely fast.
Legal issues Xiami has been involved with copyright issues involving Chinese musicians. In 2010, a group of folk artists started a campaign boycotting the site and got it to delete some of their albums.
Easily available in China? Yes.
Languages Chinese only (although the database is searchable in English).
History A part of Escape Media Group (EMG), Grooveshark was founded in 2006 by three University of Florida undergraduates. CEO Sam Tarantino launched a trial version in 2007 as a paid music download service. In 2008, EMG switched from the paid format in favour of free online streaming.
Streaming speed Fast
Legal issues Grooveshark requires its users to indemnify any losses or costs regarding any abuses of intellectual property. The company has been in legal tussles with Universal Music Group, and last year removed almost all Pink Floyd’s tracks after the band pursued a successful legal case against record company EMI over the digital sales of their albums
Easily available in China? Yes (most of the time)
Languages 24 (including English and Chinese)
Despite the legal and moral issues (Time Out is always in favour of supporting musicians) raised by record labels and artists about such websites, Xiami currently offers a wider range of both Chinese and foreign musicians than Grooveshark. Under the ambiguity of Chinese copyright laws, users are free to upload whatever content they like. It’s hard to tell how long Xiami can escape the attentions of lawyers from the big music labels. However, for those who live in China right now, it’s probably the best choice for online streaming, both in terms of variety and speed.