I know, I know – you have zero need for another music streaming app or website.
Your smart-phone screen and browser bookmarks are already clogged up with scores of alternatives and there’s no need to add to the pile. Until recently, that’s how I felt too. I have my entire music collection at my fingertips with Subsonic, tens of millions of tracks with MOG (maybe you have Spotify or rdio or Slacker), 50,000 radio stations with Tune In Radio, tunes through the house with Sonos, personalized radio with Pandora and social music discovery with such things as This Is My Jam and Turntable.FM.
Why would you possibly need yet another source of music?
Songza resoundingly and clearly answers this question by putting a music expert right in your pocket or browser. Remember having that friend who could always find the perfect song for any occasion? Or the buddy that had the knack for creating the perfect “mix tape” for a road trip? Songza gives you a virtual music concierge so you’ll have the perfect playlist for any mood, day, or occasion.
After using Songza for a couple of days, I am pretty confident you too will want to find a prominent position on your home-screen or bookmark bar for this great music service.
What makes Songza so great? Songza’s goal is awfully simple: “To play the right music at the right time.” Unlike many other services that either seed your “music station” from a particular band or song, Songza crafts playlists based upon situations and day-parts. There’s no need to know what you particularly want to listen to (a conundrum many face when firing up Spotify or MOG). With Songza, simply answer a couple of questions, and in no time you’ll be listening to playlists put together by human beings and not computer algorithms.
So how exactly does that work? When first starting the app or going to the website, you’ll be greeted with a few questions based on time of day and day of the week. So for a Monday night at 7:00pm, I am given options ranging from “Cooking”, to “Spending time with the Kids” to “Evening Commute.” Selecting an option further drills down your selection. I selected “Evening Commute” and could chose from more categories including “Left Lane Driving” to “Cure for Road Rage: Indie.” Finally, one more sub-category to choose from and your playlist is ready. In this case, I chose “Major Indie Cred.” Each playlist offers up a brief explanation and examples of what to expect.
[Selection screens are visual and beautiful]
How else can I find and play music? In addition to the “Concierge” feature there are several ways to find music. You can search for popular playlists, listen to playlists that you have previously ‘favorited,’ show playlists by genre or show recently listened to playlists. There are thousands and thousands of playlists. The average playlist seems to have about 100 songs or so but some are much, much larger. For example, a playlist that I’ve enjoyed is “Bob Dylan’s Record Collection.” It includes songs he has spun on his XM Radio show and has over 1,200 songs.
Some of the playlists are static while many of them are constantly being updated, so you can listen to the same playlist and still discover new music.
How’s the catalog? The catalog is impressive and seems to have a ton more new music and smaller label stuff than other streaming competitors. Pandora can get pretty stale relatively quickly. However, as Songza has “music experts” constantly scouring new releases and past albums for perfect songs to add to playlists, it remains current, relevant and fresh.
I’ve only been using Songza for a few weeks but every time I listen, I am discovering fantastic music with playlists that absolutely crush it. Similarly, finding deep cuts on older albums is also a joy.
In the last couple of days I’ve listened to tons of music I otherwise would have likely never listened to with bands and performers including Patty Griffin, Middle Brother, Trampled By Turtles, Jack White, Dangermuffin and Animal Collective.
Other Cool Things About Songza:
- No audio ads! This is critical when using in a social setting like a party or gathering. Small text ads are present in the apps however.
- You can buy tracks easily if you find one you really like or share what you are listening to with built in sharing with Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.
- Gorgeous album art and overall visually appealing layout in both the apps and website
- Like any good music app can, will work in the background so you can stream and do other things
- Thumb up or thumbs down tracks to help Songza match you with appropriate music
- Blazing fast and responsive- music queues up quickly and lags, skips and dropouts are never a problem.
- FREE! No subscription needed.
- Like Pandora, you are limited to a fixed amount of skips per hour on each playlist you listen to. Six songs is what you get. Similarly, there are no “replays”: you can’t rewind and can’t pick a particular song on demand.
- You can’t cache any playlist for local playing, making this not an option if you don’t have a data connection.
- No Last.FM scrobbling. While you could push your “now listening” to Twitter or Facebook, it is not exactly the same as scrobbling to Last.FM like many people like to do with all their music listening. (Listening through Sonos of course will allow scrobbling).
- Some albums do not seem to have cover art. While this doesn’t bother me too much, some people do like to know what the album cover art is so that they can recognize in the record store if interested in purchasing.
Bottom Line There’s lots to love about Songza. Nicely designed apps, expansive music catalog and playlists put together by real people and not a computer program are a handful of reasons that make Songza a worthy addition to your smart-phone or bookmark bar.
So what do you say? It’s “Tuesday afternoon”- How about some “Office Crowd Pleasers” from the “70′s”?
Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
Have an idea for an article? Product, app, or web service you are passionate about? Feel free to get in touch with me.