Google Acquires Songza

On Tuesday, Google announced that it had acquired Songza. Songza, if you haven’t heard of them, offer a unique take on music streaming. Rather than using algorithms and similar artist mash-ups, Songza offers human curated playlists, based on various factors like time of the day, or mood, or location. It is a pretty cool service. At the time of writing, Wednesday Evening, the offer a “Cooking” theme. Inside that theme, users can select from a few different playlists: “Dancing in the Kitchen” with both a Pop and Indie Dance genre, “New & Upbeat,” “Guilty Pleasures,” or “R&B Kitchen.”

This is an interesting move for Google. At first glance, it appears to be a counter to Apple’s acquisition of Beats. However, on further examination, it looks like a calculated move, and way to add value to Google Play Music and YouTube. Songza’s approach to playlist creation is a stark contrast to Google’s complex, data-driven approach to the same end. The Verge offers some excellent insight into this aspect of the Songza deal:

Google’s music service already included a radio feature that generated a playlist based on a user’s taste and a song or album they selected as the starting point. It also has a very complex and computer-driven approach to figuring out what music to recommend, one that relies on dual-sided machine-learning technology and advanced machine listening to analyze not just people’s taste but the component parts of the songs themselves. Songza, by contrast, offers up simple hand-picked mixes like “Indie Music That’s Not Too Weird” and “Easy, Breezy, Summer Songs” that are created by real people and geared to match a person’s mood.1

Although the terms of the deal have not been released, The New York Times is quoting an unnamed official as saying that, “Google paid more than $39 million for Songza.”2 As of writing, both companies are saying that there is no immediate plans to alter Songza in any way.

  1. Ben Popper, The Verge, “Google buys music service Songza to take on Apple and Beats,” 1 July 2014  
  2. Ben Sisario, The New York Times, “Google in Deal for Songza, a Music Playlist Service,” 1 July 2014