Google has acquired Songza to take on playlist-heavy services like Beats, Pandora (Update)

Daniel Bader

July 1, 2014 5:43pm

Google has gone through with its rumoured acquisition of Songza, the popular playlist-heavy music streaming service that uses curation to help listeners find the perfect grouping of songs for any mood, time or weather report.

While financial details have not been released, Google says that nothing will change at Songza, which has an office in Toronto as well as New York, except for general improvements to the service itself. Google intends to use Songza’s extensive database of user preference data to improve Play Music and YouTube, the latter expected to launch a music subscription product in the coming months.

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Google had this to say about the acquisition: “Exciting news today — 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. We aren’t planning any immediate changes to Songza, so it will continue to work like usual for existing users. Over the coming months, we’ll explore ways to bring what you love about Songza to Google Play Music. We’ll also look for opportunities to bring their great work to the music experience on YouTube and other Google products. In the meantime, check out their service on Android or iOS to find a playlist for any mood you’re in — whether you’re feeling a little mellow or a lot funky.”

While Songza has become a predominantly mobile-based service, with apps on all major platforms including Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10, it began as a web-only portal. The free, ad-based service has since added a $3.99/month tier to eliminate ads, and also recently updated its Android app with a brand new design.

The announcement comes on the same day as Rdio acquired little-known TastemakerX, a service for connecting artists with fans. The music-based social network will help Rdio integrate better with its growing user base, an active community of reviewers and listeners.

Google will likely keep Songza independent, as the brand is well-known and growing at a quick pace. The consolidation in the streaming music space is further indication of tight margins, and was likely accelerated by Apple’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics.

Update: Google reportedly purchased Songza for $39 million, according to the New York Times, more than double the initially-rumoured amount. Pretty impressive return for the small streaming music company and its investors, which had only raised $6.7 million to date.

  • Columbo

    Not a huge fan of google, but this seems like a great acquisition for them. Especially if it’s for the rumoured 15M price tag (ie. 20x cheaper than Beats).

    • MikeOxlong

      The reason it was such a cheap acquisition is because Songza is a complete unknown in the mobile media category. No brand value associated with the name.

      They barely have over a million installs on android. Even a complete failure like bbm has done better.

    • Tuan Bui

      Bbm has been around much much longer… To be fair, they have alot of subscription users for the amount of time they’ve been on market. Hopefully they keep this separate because this is an awesome app.

    • Martin Chan

      That’s tough one, a lot of people know about Songza, is it just not popular in the Android market?

    • MikeOxlong

      Really, a lot of people don’t know about songza. Those visiting sites like this would, but your average Joe doesn’t. Hell, a lot don’t even know of the existence of Pandora, and it’s been around forever.

    • marorun1982

      Been using Songza on my pc since sometime lots of friend too use it on pc and others platforms..

      Its just not well known on mobile yet but with Google in the back.. ouch its will get known.

    • FlamesFan89

      My guess is that Songza gets a traffic boost today. Being bought by a company like Google tends to have the effect of drawing attention. You are absolutely right that a lot of people don’t know about songza, but it was growing before, and will likely now grow at a faster pace. In the business world, that’s generally seen as a good thing.

    • It’s Me

      If Apple had bought just the Beats streaming service, you might have a point. At the very least, they also acquired a very profitable hardware division with high revenues and margins. If Songza had ~ $1.5 Billion annually in revenue, I expect they might have sold for more than $15 million.

      I wonder if songza had $75 million in revenue ($1.5B/20)…

      Overall, just like with Apple, the purchase price was relatively almost nothing to either of them, so little risk. This seems no better, nor any worse, than the Beats buy. In both cases, it was a simple case of relatively low risk acquisition to get a easy foothold into something newish for them.

    • FlamesFan89

      I agree with your statement that this was, for both Apple and Google, a “relatively low risk acquisition to get a easy foothold into something newish for them.”

      But can we at least acknowledge that 3.2 BILLION dollars is a WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY bigger number than 39 MILLION dollars? Like, say, two orders of magnitude bigger?

      The deals are totally different in what they include, and the size of the companies being built, so they really shouldn’t be compared at all, but it seems just a little excessively nonchalant to say that $3.2 BILLION dollars is no big deal. Yeah, I know the size of Apple, so you needn’t rant on how small it is compared to their revenues and worth and whatnot, but let’s be realistic here. If the Beats acquisition turns out to be a complete and utter waste of money, investors don’t tend to look kindly on $3.2 BILLION disappearing. $39 million, they likely won’t be fond of either, but the difference in loss here is in an entirely different sport, forget ballpark.

    • It’s Me

      What else is multiple orders of magnitude different? What each company got for their money. Songza doesn’t play at all, to further your analogy analogy, compared to Beats in terms of revenue or value.

      Buying a company that generates $1.5B of high margin revenue for $3B is no worse than buying a company with a few million in revenue for a few tens of millions of dollars.

      Comparing the two, strictly on the cost, is like saying a pair of roller blades is a better value for a commuter because it is orders or magnitude cheaper than a car and only because it is cheaper than a car. Not the most thoughtful cost or risk analysis.

    • FlamesFan89

      Wow, as usual, you completely overreact and take things the entirely wrong way. No where did I say that either spent foolishly, or that either acquisition was risky, or bad, or anything.
      My point was, Company A spent 3.2 BILLION dollars on Purchase X. Company B spent 39 MILLION dollars on Purchase Y. In the Hypothetical that both acquisitions are a flop, one company clearly looks WAY worse than the other.

    • It’s Me

      And you were replying to my reply to a post that implied just that.

      “Not a huge fan of google, but this seems like a great acquisition for them. Especially if it’s for the rumoured 15M price tag (ie. 20x cheaper than Beats).”

      So, why is it a great acquisition, compared to Beats, if they aren’t getting superior value? Are they getting superior value? Is it superior just because it’s cheaper, ignoring what they actual got for the money? Are comparisons of acquisitions really best when they completely ignore what was acquired and only focus on what was spent?

      Next time you try to post off of me, maybe try reading the conversation you are interjecting yourself into with your ranting.

    • FlamesFan89

      Next time, try to address what I actually said in my post instead of deflecting.

      I’m pointing out that despite Apple and Google having a collective net worth of roughly… All the money, it doesn’t change the fact that $3.2 BILLION is one heck of a lot bigger risk than $39 MILLION. There are a plethora of factors which would determine the actual overall risk, and value of the deals, that’s not what I’m talking about, I’m just pointing out that you implied that both were small potatoes deals that are of no consequence, and I’m saying that relatively speaking, from the standpoint of an investor, one deal is laying a heck of a lot more on the table than the other.

    • It’s Me

      Really? You are suggesting someone focus on what was actually posted? You? That’s rich, especially in the context of our current conversation.

      If we are talking risk, the yes, apple gambled more but with a much larger upside and received much more upfront for their risk. And in relative terms, both were tiny, one being obviously tinier and less valuable.

    • FlamesFan89

      Nice ad hom to start that off. You are the logical fallacy king! (there’s an ad hom. of my own for ya).

      Thank you for conceeding my point.

      Cheers.

    • marorun1982

      Both google and Apple have value in the 4xx billion of $ they are about as rich with maybe a difference of 50 billion max.

      So in my eye even with the hardware division of Beat.. Google made a much bigger bang for the buck.

    • It’s Me

      Yes, best to ignore the hardware division completely.

      How do you justify your opinion that they got more for their money, a “bigger bang for the buck” as you say. Seems like they paid far less and got far less, so how did you reach your conclusion?

    • marorun1982

      The future is in the streaming of music and if google bring Songza curation to the current googleplay streaming service they will make big money without having spend much.

      On the others hand beat hype is dying more and more consumers see that’s brand name is not everything.

      Since start of 2014 iphones sell by exemple Droped a lots and brand like lg or Motorola gained a lots of customers because they offer more for the money you give them.

      It’s like Usa economy all build like a card castle and when it’s will drop it’s will drop hard.

      I won’t respond to any more of your reply here as you clearly don’t see the big picture.

    • It’s Me

      You live in a world of fantasy.

      By who imagined metric do you claim that Beats is dying? You like curated music? That’s great. Dumb to use that to claim Beats is dying because they curate. Money? They’ve been growing overall at a spectacular rate.

      It sad that you have to delude yourself.

    • marorun1982

      A company making 1.5 billion profit a year sold for 3 billion that’s don’t look at all strange to you?

      I let you think about it.

    • It’s Me

      No, it “don’t” look look strange to me.

      Does paying $40 million for a company with such low revenue that they were valued at only $15 million less than a month ago make more sense?

      I let you think about it.

  • Samuel Gomez Recuero

    Seems like google is on a buying spree

    • Jonathan Schmitt

      Aha Google has been on a super long spree for the past few years. We hear about the big purchases, but check out the list of the companies they have purchased in the recent few years – its pretty long!

  • Yulet

    So I guess I won’t be using Songza again. Somebody needs to stop this evil company.

    • Tuan Bui

      Lol what music services would you use? Pandora and spotify aren’t available in Canada.. Also beats music subscription isn’t available as well. Rdio is a joke.. So you might have to succumb to google’s way. Btw what makes them so “evil?”

    • Jonah Emery

      Extreme data collection of your personal life. BTW, Rdio is just fine. Nothing like Songza contextual playlists though.

    • cs098

      Eh it not that much worse than any other major competitor, par for the course really. And google only takes the data you give, don’t give personal and private information, and no one will get it,

    • It’s Me

      Unless of course they are circumventing Do Not Track flags to follow your browsing. Or mining voice mail messages you left for someone not knowing they were using google voice for their voice mail. Or if they change their terms for a service to include data extraction/sharing that they originally did not require. Or if you give your personal information to a friend who then uploads that into their google account without your knowledge.

      Perhaps not worse than some others, but let’s not pretend “google only takes the data you give, don’t give personal and private information, and no one will get it”, because that simply isn’t true.

      Other than that, yeah, you have a point.

    • cs098

      Everything you said proves that, no person data will be mined (it’s via a program not by human) if there’s no personal data in the first place. Tos changes and ignoring dnts, still doesn’t change a thing if you don’t input personal data.

    • It’s Me

      Nice way to try to rationalize it. Makes as much sense as saying they don’t data mine people if those people don’t exist.

      Unfortunately, you don’t have to give them any information. They can mine lots of data that you never gave them. Tracking you across sites doesn’t require you to give them any information any all. Listening to, analyzing and storing your voicemails doesn’t involve any information you knowingly gave to them.

      I guess your point is that unless you completely shut yourself off in a cave, then you are otherwise choosing to give them information. But that isn’t true. You can choose to give google no information about you at all, but if you also choose to have a life, say friends that you call or send emails to or with whom you share your personal information. Then by your definition, you are giving it all to google. You aren’t. They have it, but you never gave it to them.

    • cs098

      Not exactly, I’m not talking about just Google, or giving anyone information. My point is if you put data on the net someone’s going to take it. That’s the way it is.

      In any case most people don’t really care, google ,ms apple among others all do this. And it just sold to advertisers. While there is potential for danger, as is it’s not a huge issue.

    • marorun1982

      Oh no… Google will know what music i listen to… Do you think Apple dont use the data they get each time you buy a music or app? they take those info and do the same as google with them…

    • bainer04

      How is Rdio a joke? I use it everyday to listen to full albums on my PC. I would consider paying for the membership too if I listened more on my phone. Songza has a dirty UI compared to Rdio.

    • marorun1982

      Only alternative is Sony unlimited wich offer a nice service but is 9.99$ a month.

    • The Mask

      jango radio?

  • Jonah Emery

    I’m honestly not happy about this. I love Songza, I’m even a Club member, paying $4 for an ad free experience. My concern is that development for non Google platforms like Windows and iOS will lag behind the Android app or even disappear. One of the best things about Songza is that I can use it both on my Microsoft Surface and iPad.

    • Victor_Creed

      Google doesn’t play those games. That’s what apple does. It will be business as usual at Songza.

    • It’s Me

      I am sorry but that is exactly what google has done in the past. You are holding them up on a pedestal based on fiction.

      SimplifyMedia is one of the best examples. It was one of the first services for the iPhone that allowed you to stream music and video content from your home computer to your iPhone. Google bought them and immediately shut down the iPhone version.

      You might have a point about songza being left alone, but don’t base that opinion on some romanticized fiction about Google.

    • marorun1982

      Its happened 1 time out of 30 company thats google have buyed.
      But out of all company thats apple have buy what the % of time they closed support for others platform? nearly 100% so its far from fiction.

    • It’s Me

      What percentage indeed….you pulled the nearly 100% straight out of your @ss. Name 5.

      Has Apple done it? Of course. Has Google? Yes. The unfortunate part is there are people that believe in some fantasy about google. They make silly claims like “Google doesn’t play those games. That’s what apple does” which is premised on fiction. If one is going deal in absolutes, then one should know whether there is even a single example which makes an absolute claim wrong. Such as in this case.

    • marorun1982

      Only a few one I got from Wikipedia apple acquisition list.

      Novauris technologies (maker of lots of cross platform speech recognition)
      They been 100% absorbed and now only used in apple device.

      Wifislam a solution for indoor location service startup was buy and then Apple will again use it to make indoor location easier on apple device.

      Locationary another startup for big data filtering for mapping.. Ofcourse now they only deal with apple no one else.

      Hopstop is another mapping company that’s apple buyed after they found out how failed the apple map was.. Still another one who only deal with apple now.

      Passif semiconductor is a company specialised in power efficient chip for wearable device and we all know they won’t sell to anyone and make chip only for Apple.

      Anyway just go see the list on Wikipedia make research and you will see the reality.

      Where google will close 1 company they buy out of 10 apple will close at least 9 out of ten.

      I could just for 2013/2014 give you at least 50 company apple has buyed and close or stop from dealing outside of apple devices and services.

      Plz because I have check the one from 2013/2014 and only found one company google have buy and closed.

    • It’s Me

      Bump. Now you have two.

    • marorun1982

      Only 2 vs over 50 for Apple.. I see the pattern..

    • It’s Me

      Math test (certainly not going to test your English)

      Is 2 = 0?

    • marorun1982

      But i never said 0 can you stop trying to tell i said something i never said?

      Also you quite low to use others language against them.
      Not because i dont write english perfectly thats its a reason to use this to give a low blow,.

    • It’s Me

      Not did I ever claim you said 0. You did jump in to defend a post I replied to that suggested it.

      I’m not attacking your English. It’s just hard parse sometimes.

    • FlamesFan89

      Quote:
      “Math test (certainly not going to test your English)
      Is 2 = 0?”

      This implies several things. One, you are implying that marorun1982 is suggesting that Google has never closed off an acquisition, why else would you be asking whether 2=0? marorun1982 even specifically stated that the number was greater than zero for Google in his first post in this thread, so why on earth would you be holding him to a standard of 0? Two, by making the comment regarding testing his English, you absolutely are attacking his English. You are specifically attempting to point out an unrelated, personal, weakness, in order to detract from his posts. I doubt that anyone would see it differently.

      Additionally, you have a habit of claiming that others are “defending” a post when they comment with similar opinions. Just because two people might have similar opinions, it does not mean they are identical, nor does the two people both sharing those similar opinions mean that one is defending the other, it simply means that they are both sharing their own similar opinions on a topic.

    • It’s Me

      If I was posting in French and someone joked that they wouldn’t test my French, I wouldn’t take that as an attempt at distraction. I’d take it as a joking comment from a French speaker that my French isn’t good. It would be an accurate assessment and not an attack.

      Why would I mention 0? Because he was trying to counter my statement that google has also done it, which disproves the generalization that “google doesn’t play that game”.

    • FlamesFan89

      except that it read as, and clearly was taken as, an insult, and not a joke.

    • FlamesFan89

      How about we use a more recent example than something that happened in 2010, like say the acquisitions of Appurify and TestFlight (Burstly). Apple quickly shuttered support for Android devices, while Google on the other hand “expressly stated that Appurify will remain a cross-platform tool” to quote MobileSyrup.

      That is by no means an exhaustive list of acquisitions, obviously, however, it is very recent, and paints a picture in people’s minds. I think you perhaps need to realize that not every internet commentor will fully research the entire business history of a company before posting, nor should they be required to.

      Was his comment far to generalized? Absolutely, but did it accurately reflect recent history, you betcha!

    • It’s Me

      Was it true? No, not when talking absolutes.

      I may have only killed one person a few years back, can I claim not to be a killer?

    • marorun1982

      Never claimed Google never did it just saying apple do it almost all the time where google almost never do it.

    • It’s Me

      Great. I was responding to a post that did imply that google doesn’t do it.

      Have they? You’ve admitted now that they have. Congratulations.

    • FlamesFan89

      Players win awards for good sportsmanship. It doesn’t mean that they never commit a foul, it means that more often than not, they play nice in the sandbox.

      But hey, congratulations, you’ve added to your logical fallacy repertoire and used the Nirvana Fallacy. No, it has nothing to do with Kurt Cobain.

    • It’s Me

      But if someone claimed that player never fouled, that would be inaccurate or dishonest.

      Some people don’t mind either.

    • FlamesFan89

      The guy you are replying to about it, yeah, he didn’t claim that.

      In fact, the first guy you replied to didn’t claim it either. He said “Google doesn’t play those games”. He did not say “Google has NEVER played those games”.

      The statement, while not complete, and not all encompassing, is generally speaking, accurate. Apple has shown a tendency to close off acquisitions from non-Apple devices and services, where as Google has shown a tendency to keep them open. Is it scientific law that is never deviated from? no, but generally speaking, it is reality, which was the point, which you missed.

    • marorun1982

      And i was not the one in origin of the post.
      My point is Apple do it at least 10 time more often.

    • It’s Me

      And no one claimed otherwise.

      It is against google’s interests, generally, to not support other platforms. That is not true for Apple. Hence a difference in behaviour.

    • FlamesFan89

      You are great with the red herrings aren’t you?
      limiting a software product and murder are not exactly equatable.

    • It’s Me

      Duh.

      It was intended to illustrate the problem with absolutes. Sorry that was lost on you.

      Even more sorry if you really took that analogy as some how equating the two. Wow.

    • FlamesFan89

      Nope, it’s called pointing out your relentless use of logical fallacies. You have a real knack for it.

      Yes, I can grasp the irony in my ad hom.

    • marorun1982

      Its also called Playing around with Word he would make a great salesman. Lots of suggar coating.

    • FlamesFan89

      I’m guessing that back in grade 1 he was the debating champion, but it didn’t last much beyond that. :)

    • hyperhyper

      I think it’s generally accepted that Apple does not make their software available on other platforms while Google and Microsoft do. There are exceptions to the rule with all three but generally that is how it rolls. You can pull out the exceptions to try and demonstrate your point but if you want to do that, they will be drowned in the sea of reality.

    • It’s Me

      So each generally acts in their best interests and as it suits them even if that means cutting off other platforms.

    • Jonathan Schmitt

      ? So your getting mad because a company would rather release its program on its proprietary OS before others? Hangouts got much more features before Android? Where is Numbers, Pages, Keynote, Itunes, pretty well anything from Apple? What Google program is not multi platform? They pretty much all are.

      You should see the benefits of this purchase. This means more support from Google which should lead to a better future for Songza.

    • Jonah Emery

      Well, I just prefer services that are not tied to locked in ecosystems. Call me strange.

    • marorun1982

      I agree this is why I hate apple business model.

    • marorun1982

      Thats the biggest bull**** i ever ear in my life.
      The quality Google applications is amazing on all platform they bring all function too.
      There wont be dfference between ios and android ( and in fact sometime i found google apps are better looking on the ios version lol )

    • Jonah Emery

      If its BS then explain why their apps are actually not on all platforms. Google Play Music All Access has no iPad app and no Windows app. That’s the actual concern I voiced, which you would know if you actually read it.

    • marorun1982

      It’s was refused by apple in the app store.
      They still have an almost complete edition of googleplay with offline playback and streaming but some function made it illegal by Apple guidline.

      Anything thats put an Apple official app at an disadvantage will make Apple block it..

      As for Windows phone they just don’t have a big enuf market to justify spending developing.

      Also why all the others google apps are on ios?

  • Sensualpoet

    My challenge with any of these services is trying to get decent meta data for classical music listening. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony is not “five songs” and, yes, it does matter who is playing (conductor, orchestra and sometimes which performance — 1953? 1963?) and NO I do not want to listen in “shuffle play” mode. When I tried Google Play Music recently, and uploaded some of my own music, it threw away all the meta data I had carefully encoded making it impossible to identify the “songs” and actually play a complete work in the correct order (let alone find all the pieces). Sheesh.

    • FlamesFan89

      Your complaint is quite valid, though, you must recognize, that in today’s market, you represent an extremely small portion of the total userbase. It doesn’t make your complaint less valid, it just means that you need to understand that the potential for your voice to be heard is unfortunately very small.

  • Ryan Laker

    This a good acquisition if implemented right. I love Google Music but the lack of curation drives me nuts.

  • hyperhyper

    Excellent purchase on their part.

  • neo905

    $39 million? Google makes that in less than a day. Now fix your crappy radio channels.