FROM THE TECH NEST: A Review of Songza

June 29. 2012 | By Mike Beebe

Songza (online at www.Songza.com) is a nifty new (and free!) music streaming platform, with apps available for your iDevices, Android gadgets, or Kindle Fire. At first glance it’s remarkably similar to Pandora or Slacker (and a host of others) in that it will play you a set of songs that it thinks you’ll like. There are differences though. First, unlike Pandora etc., Songza doesn’t ask you for a specific artist to build a station, but instead uses its unique “Music Concierge” service.

Start with the day and time, say Sunday Morning (insert “Easy” joke here) and your current activity or general mood, let’s say… hungover; Songza will then present you with a series of “channels” that the service thinks would be most appropriate for your current state of mind. And this is the real difference because these channels are the seemingly random output of some sophisticated computer modeled algorithm. Nope, Songza is programmed by REAL people. Self-proclaimed “music experts” in fact.

No, seriously. In this internet age with everything under the sun being automated and run by computers and smartphones, Songza relies on actual people, people with (I’m assuming) a deep and personal attachment to the styles and genres they program. Overall, we really like the Concierge concept, and though it seems a tad limited in terms of genre choice (at least for our personal tastes), there is a lot of room for potential here to make it even better. Songza also lets their users set playlists for others to share, similar to Spotify or 8tracks, etc. More on this in a second.

We’ve been playing around with Songza for about a week or more now, both with their Android app and the main web presence accessed through a browser. The stations programmed by Songza staff are spot on. The songs seem carefully thought out and we rarely found ourselves skipping an unpleasing track. Like other free streaming services, there is a limit to the number of songs you can skip in a certain amount of time. Status quo. But like we said, the lists are pretty solid so it’s unlikely you’ll have an issue here. Overall, the impression is great… with one caveat. It’s when you try out some of the user-created lists that things get dicey, as these are really hit or miss and may or (more likely) may not meet your expectations based on the style, artist, or “mood” you were looking for.

All in all, Songza is a nice change of pace and we especially appreciate the fact that we have actual living humans working on this service. The smartphone app is well-designed and runs well, and we’re told the Android version will soon be moveable to the SD card for you memory strapped folks out there, which is great. Stay away from the user generated playlists as much as possible and we think you’ll agree that Songza is a pretty cool experiment. We’re looking forward to seeing how it grows.

UPDATED: Android users pay attention. Previously only available on the iPhone version, the “Music Concierge” service is now available for Android too, making this a great addition to the app. Sadly there’s still no “Move to SD” support, but hopefully that shows up in the next update. Ready to have a real live human to curate playlists on your Google phone? Hit up the Market to get the update here: Songza on Google Play.

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