I tend to go through phases where I just want to find some new apps. I’ll go through the “recommended” and “popular” categories in the app store to see what I can find. Most of the time, I’ll use them once or twice and then they’ll sit until I do a cleanup of my phone again. But occasionally, I’ll find something that will work it’s way into my app rotation. My latest app phase has been music discovery apps. And I’ve found a few that are interesting, but what is certainly going to work it’s way into my regular rotation is Songza.
Songza has been around for a while (it’s Wikipedia entry lists the launch as November 2007), and while I had heard of it I hadn’t really looked into it too much. I’d always heard it summed up as “kind of like Pandora” which made me not really have too much of an interest. I have Pandora, and I like it (although it can get a bit repetitive) but I don’t need another service like it. But what the “it’s kind of like Pandora” summation leaves out is the curation.
In Pandora you add an artist, rate songs, and Pandora finds more like what you like. It’s simple and it works well. But what Songza does is completely different. It has pre-made playlists that have been curated by actual people (I want this job). There are hundreds of playlists sorted into four main categories: Activities, Genres, Moods, and Decades. The choices are so granular that it can feel overwhelming, but to overcome that Songza also has a “Concierge” based on the time of day (at work, waking up, etc). It gives you a less overwhelming way to explore playlists.
Google purchased Songza in July, and has added the concierge feature to Google Music All Access (that still needs a shorter name). While The Verge feels that since only All Access members are getting this feature, it could mean the end of ad-supported Songza in the near future. I’m hoping though that if Google gets rid of the Songza name and integrates it fully into Google Music that Google will keep it ad supported. Google Music All Access doesn’t have an ad supported option like Spotify currently does and this could be their way to do it. And since Google Music has a store, it makes sense they’d want to have a way for people to find something new to buy.
Oh, and did I mention it’s audio ad free?
For the moment however, Songza remains it’s own app available for free on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. You can also listen in your browser at Songza.com. If you’re looking for channels to start with, I suggest Pitchfork Best New Music, Talking ‘Bout My Generation: Millennials, and The Rebirth of Alt-Pop. Or you know, the Pure Geekery playlist.