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