Cool news for music geeks: Songza Media has launched a new internet radio service it is calling Songza Sets. Free to use, it organizes songs into playlists created by actual humans (“music curators” who work for Songza). The concept is not unlike the lists users compile on sites like eMusic and Amazon, but it’s Songza Sets’ exclusive focus.
“There is an abundance of good music online, but a lack of high-quality music programming,” said the company’s Peter Asbill in the announcement. “With Songza Sets, we aim to offer that excellent listening experience –the kind that is original, relevant, informative, and thematic, but pleasantly unpredictable. In order to do this, we ask our curators to roll up their sleeves, filter through all the music out there, and thoughtfully create interesting programming.”
Songza’s “expert team of music curators” creates the playlists, and they’ve kicked off Sets with some interesting choices. So far, there are three categories: Mainstream Pop, American Roots, and Independent, with a total of about 34 set lists to choose from. Example playlists include Murder Ballads, Truck Driving Honky Tonk, Grunge Before Nirvana, and Independent Women. Each set list contains 12 songs. Unfortunately, you can’t preview a set list before listening, but the song choices are intriguing and the accompanying text is informative.
The user interface is also pretty snazzy, and the site, like Songza.fm itself, looks pretty Web 2.0 savvy. On the other hand, how Web 2.0 can it be if there’s no user-generated content? Songza is clearly betting on the value its “curators” will provide, but the site would arguably be more compelling if everyone could create playlists. Add that capability and Songza might successfully bring out the Pitchfork-wielding hipster contingent — a key to success these days.
Along with Songza Sets, the company is releasing a new custom radio offering called Songza Radio. The problem is that it looks a lot like Pandora. You create a new station by entering the name of an artist, and you hear tracks from other artists that have a similar style. Users also have the ability to give Songza’s choices a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. So, of the two new services, Songza Sets seems to have a more distinctive and original flair.
The company, which launched in 2007, made a statement with its smart and simple integration of streaming music from around the web, augmented with YouTube video content. But it hasn’t garnered much market share in the years since its release. Perhaps Songza Sets and Songza Radio will make it a tougher competitor in an arena dominated by Pandora and Last.fm.