January 13, 2016 6:00 am

Songza, an app that creates curated playlists, recently announced it would be incorporated into Google Play Music at the end of January. Users will be able to migrate their Songza accounts, favorite songs, and music history, with Google promising to faithfully recreate the Songza experience.

So what is Songza? To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it until recently. This is likely my own fault. Songza was recognized in Apple’s App Store Best of 2012. It has over 34 thousand total ratings, and averages 4.5 stars. Am I about to fall in love with an app that could change drastically in a week or two?

The app works by reading your phone’s internal calendar and clock, and using that information to curate playlists based on how it thinks you’re currently spending your time. The app guessed (correctly) that I was at work, but failed to offer me a playlist of songs concerning existential angst and very-early mid-life crises. What it did offer me was topics such as, “Having Fun at Work,” “Focusing (No Lyrics),” and “Boosting Your Energy.” Upon choosing the first option, I was shown another list of topics. One, called “Whistling While You Work: Sing-Alongs,” caught my eye. Have you ever worked with someone who whistled, or SANG, while you were trying to work? Does Songza exclusively employ trolls to create its playlists?

I was not prepared for where choosing this option would take me; first was a Celine Dion cover of the Eric Carmen power ballad “All By Myself”. Next was “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls, and third was the theme song to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, sung by Peabo Bryson. There was also an option for “All-Star Rap-Alongs”, and a whole playlist dedicated to “Sing-Along Favorites from Disney Movies.”

Just. No.

If anything, the app is good for a laugh, or for driving with your friends on the way to something fun. Whereas apps like Pandora begin by working from criteria you give them, Songza seems to work by using the trial-and-error method. After Google takes over, I’m hoping the new infrastructure for Songza can make better suggestions for music; no one should have to be subjected to power ballads.

Songza 1

October 28, 2015 8:55 am

In an internet radio world dominated by big players like Pandora, Sirius XM, Apple Music, Google Play and Spotify, the little guys have a lot to prove just to keep up.

Musicovery is an app that integrates mood-based listening with online radio. It does so in the Songza vein; however, in a much more simplified fashion. While Songza boasts twenty different moods, Musicovery selects the big four: “Energetic,” “Calm,” “Dark,” and “Positive.” The four moods are set up like a grid with the “Energetic” and “Calm” on the North and South poles and “Dark” and “Positive” on the West and East poles. The user selects an area on the grid and the service plays a song based on both where the selected area falls on the mood spectrum and additional genre preferences the user can select.

Sometimes less is more. Other times, less is just less.

While Musicovery’s inclusion of only four moods certainly lightens the workload of the listener, it does not provide the ultimate experience that a more complex service like Songza provides. The few mood choices make the listening experience haphazard and difficult to listen to if you are a listener who has specific taste. Additionally, Musicovery’s lack of activity-based customization reduces the overall efficacy of the platform. If a user isn’t feeling in a particular mood but is doing a particular activity, the user cannot utilize the platform. Finally, the abundant technological setbacks, like not having an app with iPhone compatibility and bugs on the desktop site, make the user experience a frustrating one.

Amidst the more negative analysis, there is a silver lining to Musicovery. I have never seen a more diverse and global approach to the online radio listening experience. Musicovery is a go-to for a listener with a wide range of musical interests spanning every genre and every country of origin. For a World Music lover like me, this app is a great destination for a more globally focused listening experience.

At the end of the day, Musicovery’s globally focused listening experience cannot compensate for its lack of mobile accessibility, glitches on the site, scarce mood options and lack of activity-based listening. While I would love to root for the little guy, I find myself sticking with the big guns like Songza (acquired by Google and integrated into Google Play) and Spotify… at least for now.