What is Songza and why has Google bought it up?

Yesterday, Google announced that it has bought Songza. Never heard of it? Us neither – until now, it’s been a relatively small venture, so we decided to put together a Q&A to straighten out the deal …

What is Songza?

It’s an app that’s been around for three years, and is currently based in New York. Much like Pandora and 8tracks, it tailors playlists to its users’ music tastes and makes appropriate recommendations based on what they already like.

How does it work?

According to its Twitter page, ‘Songza plays you the right music at the right time.’ Although we’d love to think that means we’ll be walking along and suddenly hear our own personal soundtracks accompanying us, the app’s speciality is much more about musical ‘curation’. This means it recommends songs according to users’ activities, different times of the day and even the weather, thanks to a deal with the Weather Channel. Pathetic fallacy, much?

Why does Google think it’s worth buying?

It’s not exactly clear – while Songza is a good idea, it’s hardly unique and is relatively small (for now). With just over 40,000 likes on Facebook and 45,000 Twitter followers, we’re not talking anywhere near the same scale as some of the other companies Google has acquired, like YouTube (in 2006, for $1.65 billion). But it reportedly had 5.5 million regular users at the end of last year, so it’s expanding fast, and the buy represents growing solidarity with music subscription services.

So how much did Google pay?

The unauthorised figure is $39 million, but both Google and Songza have refused to comment on or confirm that amount.

What does Songza say about the buy?

Songza states on its website: ‘we’re thrilled to announce that we’re becoming part of Google. We can’t think of a better company to join in our quest to provide the perfect soundtrack for everything you do.’ But what else did you expect them to say?

Hmm. So what’s going to change for those already fans of Songza?

Very little, for the time being.

Google said in a statement: ‘we’re thrilled to welcome Songza to Google. … We aren’t planning any immediate changes to Songza, so it will continue to work like usual for existing users.’ It does, however, plan to ‘explore ways to bring what you love about Songza to Google Play Music’ and ‘look for opportunities to bring their great work to the music experience on YouTube and other Google products.’

It remains to be seen exactly what will come of the deal, but with Google’s finances to back it, we’re sure it will grow and grow. Watch this space!


Sadie Hale