Adding to the already extremely saturated app market is the latest in listening creativity known as Songza. It’s only been out a couple of weeks and it has consistently ranked in the top 5 selling free apps for smart phones. Why the hype? What about Pandora and Spotify? I took a look.
Songza does have organized playlists like Spotify but that’s where the similarity ends. Once you create your account, any time you open the app your default homepage is the concierge tab. Given the time of day, it guesses what kind of mood you might be in (of course, you can adjust your timezone accordingly). After choosing your mood, it gives you about a half dozen filters to choose from, after which the next screen will be a series of playlists precreated for your amusement. You can’t see what’s on the playlists ahead of time, you can only listen (without commercials!) and skip tracks you don’t like. If you enjoy, you can add the playlist to your favorites tab to come back to later. So here’s an example:
I open the app and click on the concierge tab; it says “It’s Friday afternoon! Play music for: …” and then I can choose “Summertime,” “An Energy Boost,” “Brand New Music,” “A Weekday Dance Party,” “Taking the Day Off,” or “Popular Genres.” I go with “Taking the Day Off” which leads to a choice of activities “Lying on the Beach,” “Driving on the Open Road” and a few others. I choose “Lying on the Beach” which gives me a choice of playlists titled “Classic Hawaiian Steel Guitar,” “Beach Vacation,” and “Sunshine Reggae.” Cool. Where do these playlists come from? A profile on DIY Musican puts it this way:
Songza is a non-interactive music streaming (ie. internet radio) site that is seamlessly integrated with Facebook; but rather than some fancy computer algorithm determining song selection, they have actual music fans, writers, and musicians create and share playlists to fit specific moods or themes.
I love the concept because it forces exploration and caters to your current mood at the same time. If you don’t feel like shuffling your entire library or rehashing old stuff this will be good. I wish I had this when I was still in college – I would have used this for study playlists. I do wish there was a straightforward way to scrobble to your Last.fm profile. I heard recently you can, but I know it involves setting up another program outside of Songza that supports multiple apps. I wish it was a straightforward as checking a box like in Spotify. I do like the virtually nonexistent buffering time needed for streaming these playlists and find the interface to be intuitive and fun. I worry that the concept could become gimmicky – how quickly will one explore all the playlists? Or maybe perhaps the experts at Songza make it their goal to stay ahead of the curve. One last thing – there are some ads, and you do have the ability to link to iTunes from playlists so this app is both a business and has artists’ best interests in mind.