Yesterday Google bought Songza, my favorite music app, and my number one hope is that they will leave it unchanged. That said, Songza curates music quite well and hopefully that can be expanded to areas like video and news.
What I love about Songza is how little time and effort it takes me to start playing “perfect” music. Music that is the right fit for my taste at a particular moment. Songza does this in three painless steps. First, pick what you’re currently doing. These six selections change based on the time of day and serve to narrow down your playlist options. Second, pick a style of music that works for that activity, again out of six possibilities. Finally, pick one of three closely related playlists. At stage 4 you can either start listening to a playlist or pick another one that is very similar.
What Songza does very well is this:
1. It’s very easy and quick to get to start listening to music. Not just any music, a songlist that really works for you.
2. Their lists are so well made that I usually listen to the entire list. As far as I can tell they are put together by humans, which (obviously enough) makes a real difference. The best recommendation engine is no match for an expert in a particular musical genre.
It is this combination of lots of good lists and a quick and accurate list selection process that make Songza great. I’ve gone from owning my music and carefully building my own playlists to being lazy and relying on Songza to make a list for me. I know I’ll like it just as much.
I wouldn’t improve much in Songza but I would try to add these features, depending on whether their music licenses allow for it:
- Make it easier to come back to playlists I liked and to listen to them again. That way I can find a list even if my mood doesn’t fit the current offerings by the concierge.
- A better history. This will prove important when trying to adapt Songza to video and other content. It’s OK to listen to a song more than once but that doesn’t work with video.
I love this quote by Matias Duarte at the recent Google I/O about TV watching: “When your butt hits the sofa you lose 20 IQ points.” Users want to be entertained and they don’t want to work for it. True for TV viewing, true for music listening.