With the rise of the Internet, most people have turned to online music solutions, causing many radio stations to lose a significant amount of their audience. In addition to downloading songs on iTunes, on-demand streaming services, such as Spotify, Deezer and Grooveshark, have grown very popular by letting you listen to virtually any track on your mobile phone, provided you pay a monthly subscription.
While these services are very convenient, radios are essentially different in the sense that they play a specific genre without allowing you to make your own playlist. Pandora has tried to recapture this analogue radio concept of letting you pick the genre but not the songs, as it automatically generates playlists based on an artist, genre or composer you select. Songza takes the concept even further: instead of asking you to pick a genre or an artist first, it analyzes context and suggests playlists accordingly.
The first time you launch Songza, you’ll be asked if you’re a socialite and want to connect the app to your Facebook account or create a standalone one instead. Once this formality is completed, you can immediately start using the app. Based on the day and time, Songza suggests activities you could be doing. For instance, a smart guess for Saturday afternoons is doing housework or spending time with your family – or in the case below, saving the world.
Songza suggests activities depending on the context – Yes, saving the world is one of my daily activities!
After you select an activity, Songza will present you with a list of various genres that are likely to correspond to what you’re doing. Once you pick the one you’re in the mood for, your selection is narrowed down to three playlists, which usually correspond to six genres: tap one and put your headphones on!
Picking a genre based on an activity
While listening to a playlist, you can pause or skip a track and give the song a thumbs up or thumbs down, which will help Songza learn your music preferences and provide you with customized playlists and tracks in the future. It’s worth mentioning the application integrates perfectly with Android, as it lets you perform these actions right from the notification bar. It also has the option to share the playlist with your friends or buy the song on Google’s Play Store, if you’d like to listen to it on demand.
Songza displays the album cover both in the app and the notification bar
Manual Selection of Playlists
If you would rather select a playlist manually, Songza has you covered: you can either browse Popular playlists – Trending, Featured and All Time – or look for personalized recommendations using the Explore option. The latter breaks down playlists by Genre, Activities, Moods, Decades, Culture and Record-Store Clerk, and if for some reason these options weren’t enough, you can tap the Search icon and find playlists featuring your favorite artists.
Make It Yours
In addition to remembering your ratings, Songza lets you favorite playlists you like. It also keeps track of your recent playlists and activities, which allows the app to present you with personalized suggestions next time you use it. Because it syncs with the cloud, your preferences are stored across platforms – I’m always delighted to find my favorite and recent playlists on my iPad after listening to them on my Android phone!
Popular and Personal Playlists
If you connect Songza with Facebook, you’ll also have the option to view the playlists your friends listen to and share yours with them. Lastly, a nice feature worth mentioning is the Sleep Timer, which lets you program when the app should stop playing and let you sleep peacefully.
You’ll also be happy to note that Songza features a beautiful tablet-optimized interface, that makes full use of the landscape orientation in tablets.
Songza clearly has an interesting vision on how and when to deliver the right music at the right time. It learns to suggest the appropriate playlists based on what you are likely to do at a specific time. Using the application when working out, for instance, is a real pleasure: it knows what genre to play without you having to touch your phone or change tracks – unless you really don’t like a song, that is. I personally believe Songza and Pandora are both great solutions and are not meant to replace each other.
Even though the application is only available on the American and Canadian Play Stores, it does work outside of these countries. This is delightful, as you can still use the app when working out at your hotel gym during a business trip, for example, something you can’t do with Pandora…