Why Google Bought Songza

In a move that’s been rumored for several weeks now, Google announced yesterday that they’re buying the personalizable multichannel webcaster Songza. The purchase seems like an odd one for Google, given its historical preference for algorithmically-created products. The problem, however, is that music is difficult to program on a purely algorithmic basis: An intense Seals & Crofts song, for example, may sound acoustically similar to a mellow Led Zeppelin song, but an experienced music programmer (i.e., a human being) would be able to discern that they’re culturally very dissimilar.

RAIN founding editor Kurt Hanson explores why the Songza acquisition might be a smart investment for Google. Continue Reading


Curation: The programming buzzword for 2014 which drives acquisitions

by Brad Hill

Google’s acquisition of Songza is widely regarded as a buy-in of Songza’s unique “Concierge” delivery of personalized music, based on each user’s activity and mood combined with other data signals. The backbone of Songza programming is assembled by a team of 60 music specialists, and their work is supplemented by a Big Data-fed algorithm which refines the output based on the listener’s history of song votes and song skips.

Songza’s formula, and those of other music services, which determine what a listener hears, all fall under the broad term “curation.” All music services that provide some degree of interactivity deploy a curation strategy. The underpinning of that strategy is subject to trend and vogue. How has music curation evolved, and what is the trend this year which is driving acquisitions?
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Google acquires Songza

After a few weeks of speculation, Google has acquired Internet radio platform Songza. Financial details have not been disclosed.
Google’s announcement says that no immediate changes will happen to Songza, but “Over the coming months, we’ll explore ways to bring what you love about Songza to Google Play Music. We’ll also look for opportunities to bring their great work to the music experience on YouTube and other Google products.” Continue Reading


The Songza business: Conversation with Elias Roman, CEO

Internet radio platform Songza has built its reputation on the so-called Concierge method of music curation. The Concierge service seeks to understand the user’s mood and activity, match it to time of day, local weather, and other signals, combine all that with historical music preferences, and deliver a perfect soundtrack (playlist) for the moment.

This method of playlist discovery has been imitated, most recently by “The Sentence” in Beats Music. Rhapsody, iHeartRadio, and others have also gone down this path to varying extents.

Wanting to know more about the anatomy of Songza Concierge, and also how it ties into monetization through ad sales, we spoke with Elias Roman, CEO. Continue Reading


Internet Radio Rewind #008

Internet Radio REWIND, an audio recap of the week.

This weekly podcast is a quick and concise catch-up of the week’s top stories.

This week: Apple’s announcements …. The future of the music industry … the U.S. government might change music licensing … and independent labels throw YouTube under the bus. Continue Reading


Songza’s “Concierge” programming now enhanced by weather conditions

“It’s Thursday morning. Play music for…” That’s the type of greeting Songza users see when they open the listening app. Songza’s music curation is fashioned around time of day, activity, mood, and genre, with the intent to serve up music that fits the listener perfectly. Now there is a new component in that curation equation — the weather. Continue Reading