Songza’s Music Strategy Poised to Disrupt Pandora, Spotify, iTunes

3/5/12Follow @jpruth

The team at Songza in Long Island City is chasing a trend in the music world: They’re moving away from downloads and towards streaming content. And the Songza folks are hoping their platform, which curates song lists for users, can stifle the likes of larger Internet music player Pandora. To leverage its curation strategy, company unveiled this morning a new feature called music concierge, which takes into account the time of day, the user’s type of listening device, the day of the week, past preferences, and other factors to pick songs for streaming. “We started to see a big shift in [music] consumption,” says CEO Elias Roman. “The kids didn’t care about owning their music. As long as they could access it, streaming was just fine.”

Elias and his fellow co-founders acquired Songza some four years ago while developing another online music startup called Amie Street. Roman says his company thus far has raised somewhere between $1 million and $5 million from backers that include Deep Fork Capital. After acquiring Songza, Roman’s team revamped the platform, which initially it pulled music lists from YouTube. They worked on Songza in anticipation of changes to the market that Roman believes may dampen sales of music downloads. “At some point this download game isn’t going to make sense anymore,” he says. “We wanted to be ready for that trend.”

After selling Amie Street in 2010 to Amazon, Roman and his team focused on Songza’s curation platform, which he sees disrupting online music services. This already crowded field is populated by Internet radio channels including Live365 and Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio network in addition to Spotify and Pandora. What makes Songza, which is free to use, different is the way it curates music, Roman says. While other online music sources focus on amassing gargantuan libraries of titles, he says Songza makes it easier to find new music in its library with playlists created to fit specific situations and times.

While Pandora lets users pick genres and artists of their liking and offers suggestions from music analysts, and Spotify shares song choices across the social sphere, Songza drills down even further. Whether it is for a backyard barbeque or a cardio workout, Roman says Songza generates song lists tailored for specific

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João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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