Google has acquired music streaming service Songza after weeks of speculation around a potential buyout.
Songza uses information about the user and context to determine the best playlists for you at any given time, all of which are curated by music experts (DJs, Rolling Stone writers, etc.).
Very few services look to human curation to enhance the music experience — Pandora, Spotify, and other big players rely heavily on algorithms — making this one of the key selling points of the service. Plus, Songza has tons of data around what people like to listen to based on the time of day, the weather, location, and activity, which can be immensely valuable to a company like Google who is looking to seamlessly integrate technology into every corner of your life.
Originally, Google was reported to be targeting the $15 million mark for this acquisition, though the company has not officially disclosed the terms of the deal. However, we’ve heard that there was also a possibility that Songza was being approached by other suitors, raising the price tag considerably.
According to Google, Songza will remain intact for users and nothing will change about the service for now, though Songza’s expertise will be applied to other products like Google Play Music and YouTube. However, Google is not commenting on the employment situation with regards to all current Songza employees.
Songza will stay in its office in Long Island City for the next few weeks, and eventually move into Google’s NYC HQ.
Songza has been around since 2007, and originally launched as a streaming service for expertly curated playlists. Eventually, the company launched its Concierge feature, which uses date and time and activity to serve up the right playlist at the right time.
Since, the company has raised a total of $6.7 million in funding, with participation from investors like Amazon, Gary Vaynerchuk, Scooter Braun, Deep Fork Capital, Lerer Ventures, and David Hirsch from Metamorphic Ventures (this is their second exit in a week).
Songza currently has around 5.5 million active users, though it doesn’t disclose how many of them opt to pay for the $.99 weekly subscription service that does away with ads.
Here’s what Google had to say in its official announcement:
[Songza has] built a great service which uses contextual expert-curated playlists to give you the right music at the right time. We aren’t planning any immediate changes to Songza, so it will continue to work like usual for existing users. 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. In the meantime, check out their service to find a playlist for any mood you’re in — whether you’re feeling a little mellow or a lot funky.
And here’s Songza’s statement:
We can’t think of a more inspiring company to join in our quest to provide the perfect soundtrack for everything you do. No immediate changes to Songza are planned, other than making it faster, smarter, and even more fun to use. In the meantime, we’ll be walking on sunshine.
Apple recently acquired Beats Music for $3 billion for many of the same reasons. Unlike Pandora and others, Beats takes a Songza-like approach to music curation, using humans to put together the perfect playlists, and then using technology to match people with the right playlists for them.
As is expected in Platform Wars like these, Google needed something more sophisticated than its own Google Play Music All Access on-demand streaming service, and is clearly using Songza to help keep pace.