Songza Adds Context to Google Play Music

Hey, did you hear that Google is buying music curated music app Songza? I’m very excited about this acquisition. Songza is a bit different than other streaming music apps, in that their playlists are carefully curated around context - What time of day are you listening? What’s your mood? What activity are you participating in? - and then plays music based on that context. And I hope that Google will integrate this context directly into their own streaming music app.

Google is already so good at context - Google Now proves this every day. But their music streaming app could really benefit from some additional contextual help. Play Music already has great music discovery features, including an “I’m feeling lucky” radio feature which plays a random playlist based on your previous listening habits. While they make good suggestions based on what I’ve already listened to, the service does miss out on context.

Why I listen, not what I listen to.

One great example of this need for more context is on display when my auto-generated playlists are influenced by one of my most listened to playlists: lullabies for my son. We listen to these each night as we get ready for bed, and I play this playlist from my Google Music account. This influences Google’s algorithm, and later the music Google will recommend for me.

With just a little bit of context - “hey, Alan, why are you listening to that song?” Google would be able to craft much better playlists - and I think that’s exactly why they are investing in Songza.

Context is a two-way (or more) street.

The other interesting angle of this acquisition is that Google will now get to push context to Songza. Currently, Songza gives you some interesting, time-bound playlist choices. For example, at 12:30 on Wednesday afternoon, Gave me these options:

Four of those options are pretty good guesses for any old Wednesday afternoon - but what if I work nights? What if I work outside, not in an office? What if I were, actually, going to a specific festival? By integrating with Google, Songza will have a much better idea of what I usually do, where I’m going and if I’m usually awake at this time.

I think that Songza is perfect for Google, and Google is perfect for Songza. I’m looking forward to seeing how this merger changes everything.