This would be a strategic move for Google, as it continues to trail behind companies like Spotify, Apple, and Pandora when it comes to music curation.
There is an interesting reason why Google is behind in this race: Music doesn’t respond to search algorithms — Google’s key strength — the way simpler media like words or images do. It’s easy to program software so that it recognises matching words or strings of text. It’s magnitudes harder to program software that can “listen” to audio, code it correctly with the right attributes, and then make those attributes discoverable either in a search or as a stream of similar songs — as Pandora does.
The Music Genome Project, which is the back-end of Pandora, represents over 10 years of music analysis. Collecting the data for a single song can take 20 minutes. A decade. That’s how far behind Google is, in theory, in terms of music streaming — and why it will pounce on Songza if it gets the right price.
Google already has a few streaming music products, like its Google Play store, Google Play Music All Access premium-subscription service, and of course, YouTube. But all of those offerings lack strong curation. Meanwhile, Google is also reportedly working on a Spotify-like music offering, powered by YouTube. Buying Songza could help beef up Google’s music offerings overall.
Songza only has 5.5 million monthly active listeners, while Spotify has over 40 million monthly active listeners. Those figures demonstrate that Google wants Songza for its curation, rather than for its listeners.
Apple recently acquired streaming music service Beats Music in a deal worth $US3 billion. When news of the deal broke, Apple executives noted that the strength of Beats Music’s curation played a role in the decision to buy the company.
Songza is relatively similar to Beats Music in that it plays music for you based on your mood, location, who you’re with, and what kind of music you feel like listening to. This morning, Songza suggested playing music for “The rainy weather,” “waking up happy,” and “singing in the shower.”
Google has also been on an acquisition tear lately. It recently bought Titan Aerospace, a company that makes high-flying solar powered drones. Back in December, Google bought Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that creates robots for the military.