Google Picks Up Songza Streaming Music Service that Focuses on Curated Playlists

| Analysis

The Tech Giant Streaming Music Wars heated on Tuesday with the announcement that Google bought Songza. Like Beats Music, the service Apple picked up when it bought Beats Electronics, Songza focuses on providing playlists curated by human beings.

A Songza tweet:

"Exciting news today," Google said in a Google+ post, "we’re thrilled to welcome +Songza to Google. They’ve built a great service which uses contextual expert-curated playlists to give you the right music at the right time."

The emphasis on human-created content is exactly the sort of thing that Apple was most interested in about Beats. Human-curated content has also emerged as the differentiating feature in the crowded streaming music market.

Google said, "We aren't planning any immediate changes to Songza." Songza's apps will remain available on Android and iOS, as well.

What was interesting is that Google also said it will be looking for "opportunities" to bring the Songza experience to "YouTube and other Google products." The mention of "other Google products" is probably a red herring, but YouTube could certainly benefit from improved discovery. The possibilities are intriguing.

Another Songza tweet:

Terms of the deal weren't announced, but the News Corp rag The New York Post reported that Google paid around $35 million for Songza. That's 1.17 percent of the $3 billion price tag Apple paid for Beats, though Apple's purchase price included Beat's profitable headphone business and founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

It did, however, include Elias Roman, Songza's founder, and he was able to secure some $4.7 million in funding from venture capitalists including Amazon and other Silicon Valley VCs. He has also shepherded the company to steady growth in the short time the company has existed.

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Good grief! first the I/O announcements, now this? It’s just getting embarrassing. When you throw in everything else Google has it’s fingers in it’s downright baffling. Has there ever been a company this directionless or lacking on prescience of any kind? Amazing that after all their success, they are still just a bunch of dorks that wouldn’t know ‘cool’ if it kicked them in the shins. :/


I use Songza as it’s a reasonably good service that’s available in Canada, unlike Spotify or Beats.

It’s disappointing that Google had to pick it up, but this is the way things are these days: nothing interesting and effective remains independent for very long.


@Jamie, Microsoft under Steve Balmer was about as directionless. Windows Everywhere!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

My hunch is that Google is pursuing a soft drink brand model. They’ll acquire a collection of small, successful music upstarts and let them operate independently. They’ll standardize the music licensing deals, delivery, and sales. But the services will keep the “it” that makes them interesting to their audiences.


Operate them independently?!?!?  Like Nest?!?!?  They will keep the ‘it’ and add to that a bombardment of advertising and ruthlessly selling information on all of the music that I listen to to the entire world until the letters ‘sh’ get added to the ‘it’ that the services keep, thus driving everyone away!!


Bryan Chaffin

There’s a difference between integrating data from a company (like Nest, through the recent API announcement) and allowing a company to continue operating as its own service. One does not cancel the other out.

For instance, there is no doubt Google will integrate user listening data to their profiles, but that doesn’t mean Songza won’t remain Songza or the other small services Google has been buying won’t remain their branded selves.

I would think, Brad, that Google would get the most value from Songza by eventually merging their team into the music side of Google Play and/or YouTube. My bias is that I was already convinced of the value of human-created content.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Bryan, the point I’m making is that I see Google’s music eco-system consisting of a number of different distinct appearing flavors, rather than one system to rule them all with a bunch of $50M features. Apple was looking for 1 thing, and they plopped down $3B on the one they thought was “best”. Google seems to be about $49M for Songza. Tossing Beats hardware and Dre’s weed carrier aside, those are two very, very different scale deals. Coupled with the tendency of the press to impute Apple-style motives on anything Google does, I’m leery of the suggested narrative grin.

But yeah, the value Google can add to services like Songza is doing the common back-end services and letting Songza focus on its DUV, pardon the more than timely Amelio-ism.


Technically, to compare apples to apples, Apple paid less than $500M for the Beats streaming music service and over $2.5B for the Beats hardware business.  And, I would suspect that the number of subscribers and the revenue stream makes it well worth the roughly 10 times more in cost than what google paid for whatever Songza is…

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