Grooveshark, an early leader in music streaming that enraged major labels for letting users upload copyrighted songs, has abruptly shut down after years of litigation.

The website went dark with a message posted saying that, in a settlement with the three major record label conglomerates, Grooveshark was ceasing operations immediately and handing all copyrighted work to the companies.

"We started out nearly 10 years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music," the message said.

"But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.

"That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation," it said.

Grooveshark was founded in 2006 by three students at the University of Florida in one of the first sites that, in effect, allowed users to listen to music on-demand for free.

Grooveshark's young, entrepreneurial spirit brought frequent media comparisons to Facebook with one of the founders who left the company, Colombian-born Andres Barreto, sometimes called the Latin Mark Zuckerberg.

Grooveshark allowed users to upload songs, which were often protected by copyright, to which others could listen.

The site eventually reached agreements with some independent labels but remained at loggerheads with the three major record label conglomerates.

But Grooveshark faced impending doom in September when a federal judge ruled that the company's bosses encouraged the uploading of song files, even ones that had previously been taken down due to copyright concerns.

Since Grooveshark's inception, streaming has become increasingly mainstream.

Industry leader Spotify, based in Sweden, launched in 2008 and now claims 60 million users, with 15 million paying for advertisement-free service.