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

3/5/12Follow @jpruth

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settings and context. The platform suggests music geared for Monday mornings at the work desk, as well as Friday nights kicking back in a lounge chair.

Roman says his platform taps music experts such as part-time musicians, writers for publications such as Spin and Rolling Stone, and the tastes of other users to offer music suggestions. Songza’s strategy is to make song selections both personal and relevant to the situation. Roman is also has his eyes on integrating the platform with devices in living rooms such as Roku SoundBridge and Sonos music players.

To grow Songza’s population, Roman says the company has partnered with Radio One to integrate the platform into the BlackPlanet Radio site. Songza is seeking similar collaborations with other Web portals, he says. Songza is approaching 500,000 registered users.

Roman has some experience building up an online music startup. He and his co-founders started Amie Street in 2006 while they were seniors at Brown University. Amie Street was born from discussions about the price of music downloads. “We started thinking about features that would make music on the internet worth paying for,” Roman says. “Ninety-nine cents per song didn’t make sense to us.” The Amie Street team believed the online community should have sway over the worth of the music and their online store let the users raise or decrease the price of song tracks.

Meanwhile Songza was co-founded in 2007 by Aza Raskin, a former designer at Mozilla who went on to co-found Massive Health. After Amie Street acquired the platform and Amazon acquired Amie Street, Roman’s team continued on with Songza. Amazon subsequently shut down Amie Street in favor of its own online music store.

Songza is available on iOS and Android mobile devices as well as Kindle Fire tablets. With more smartphones and mobile devices offering high-speed wireless access, Roman says consumers are tapping into streaming content more readily. Even with mobile media devices capable of downloading hundreds of songs, Roman sees the future of the market in streaming content. “We realized we were offering the wrong kind of service,” he says. “We were offering downloads when people just wanted music.”

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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