Google Acquired By Songza! Wait. I May Have That Backwards.

Okay, the secret’s out.  After the markets closed Tuesday, it was announced that Google has acquired Songza (Full disclosure: I work for Songza so I kinda have a dog in this one, which explains the length of this post.)  And before you ask, I have no idea what the financial terms are.  That sort of information is far, far above my pay grade.

In fact, I don’t know much more about the deal than the average tech watcher.  So let’s go to Billboard which seems to have a better handle on things:

Google plans to incorporate Songza’s playlists into its Google Play Music All Access subscription service, enhancing its radio function. Google Play already has some human-curated playlists, but largely relies on algorithms for much of its radio-style programming. Songza may also be integrated into a paid YouTube service, which Google acknowledged it is readying.

Um, okay.  But, er, do I still have a job?

“No immediate changes to Songza are planned, other than making it faster, smarter, and even more fun to use,” Songza said in a separate statement.


Whew.  I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.

The full Billboard story can be found here.

Curation–a word that my spellcheck doesn’t recognize–is THE buzzword of 2014.  The notion has been around for at least five years (my old ExploreMusic project was all about curation–and Pandora has been doing human-powered curation for a decade ) but it’s taken until now for the concept to filter through the industry.

RAIN takes a look at the various curation concepts in the marketplace today.

Songza’s formula, and those of other music services, which determine what a listener hears, all fall under the broad term “curation.” Unlike a museum curation, which presents one experience for all visitors, music-service curation is mostly a technology achievement, and depends on user behavior to deliver user-specific results.

Keep reading.

TechCrunch has more on the Songza sale here while you can also find coverage at MacRumors, Mashable and USA Today.  Then we have this analysis from

Finally, here’s an in-depth look at the purchase from Music Industry Blog:

Google yesterday confirmed the much rumoured purchase of curated music service Songza for somewhere between $15 and $39 million. While it is not a vast investment for a company with the recent $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest as a benchmark, it is nonetheless a significant one for a company that already has a couple of streaming music services of its own. It is not a Beats sized deal but then if Google had wanted one of those it would have bought Spotify. So just why did Google splash the cash on Songza?

Access to all the music in thee world can be overwhelming, with so much choice that there is effectively no choice at all. This is the Tyranny of Choice. For all the efforts and intent of music services to ‘fix’ discovery no one has yet nailed it. Listen Services like Nokia Mix Radio, O2 Tracks and Pandora present one solution: effectively removing the burden of excessive choice by delivering a curated stream of music that requires little or no effort from the user. But this approach does not translate well to All You Can Eat (AYCE) services like Spotify and Googles’ Play Music All Access. These services are built on the foundations of giving access to everything, the exact opposite of what Listen Services are about. Which is why AYCE services are doubling down on enhancing their internal curation and recommendation capabilities. Spotify moved first with its acquisition of the EchoNest,Rdio followed by acquiring TastemakerX and now this move from Google. Beats Music took a different route entirely, building its service on the foundations of programming rather than superimposing it.

Google should be able to extract great value from Songza but as with all of these technologies it is just part of the solution. Human programming, as resource intensive as it might be, remains a pivotally important part of the equation, and though all the AYCE services have teams of curators, only Beats so far has done it at large scale.

Read the rest here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38513 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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