Yesterday Grooveshark launched the newest iteration of its music service, Grooveshark Lite. It's a big step forward for the company, ditching the need to download anything and creating a cleaner, tighter version of its player that runs right in your browser.
The core of the service is still retained in the Lite version. You can track what's popular, get recommendations, and listen to your saved library of tracks. The big change is the interface. Built in Adobe Flex, it's snappy, beautiful, and incredibly intuitive. It definitely takes a hint from the iPod with simple hierarchical menus that snap back and forth, making it easy for new users to pick it up and get started.
My favorite feature of Lite is the new playlist builder, which lets you simply click a button to drop a song into a stack that sits at the bottom of the player. You can rearrange the tracks endlessly, or simply remove them by dragging them off the playlist where they vanish into oblivion. While there's no awesome explosion like deleting photos from Flickr's Organizr, it's very satisfying and a marked improvement from the previous iteration.
Steve Spalding, who does consulting work for Grooveshark, tells me the company has every intention of keeping the downloadable Sharkbyte client around. They just wanted to fulfill one of the top user requests of being able to access the music library while at a work machine, or other places where an install is not possible.
With the move to the Web, Grooveshark joins a packed market of other music players. With services like Last.fm, iLike, Seeqpod, Pandora, Simplify Media, and MediaMaster among some of the more notable music discovery and sharing services, Grooveshark is the only one with a revenue model that pays users back. For more on that read our hands-on from September.