Songza: New digital music service is your personal DJ

This may be the first free service to make sense at a party.

Most digital music services are great for your workday, when you just need anything to distract your senses from the cubicle walls enclosing you. But even the most social of these services don't have the sort of reliability that you'd trust to provide a party soundtrack.


That's where Songza comes in. A streaming platform that is calling itself a music concierge service, Songza mines years of music history and today's music blogs for the best gems, so you don't have to. The company has 18 million songs in their database and 25 employees -- each of whom they have given the enviable job title of "music expert." The bullet point beneath "music expert" on these people's résumés will show that their main priority is creating playlists.


"The DJ is crucial," says Elias Roman, CEO and co-founder of Songza. "Without that element, the validation from someone we trust, the music feels a little less human."


Users can also create their own playlists. Combined with the music experts' lists, there are already 100,000 on the site.


Another plus: Even without becoming a member, there are no audio ads on the site.

"To us, the idea of you hearing a toothbrush commercial while your listening to our Indie Makeout playlist just feels like selling a parachute with holes in it," says Roman. "We would never do it."

So there must be a catch. Yes, there are a few. Though Songza's radio license gives them access to more songs than you'd ever be able to listen to in a lifetime, it also means that users can't press a "back" button if they want to hear a song again. The radio license also prohibits Songza from displaying a list of the songs on their playlists. The company has what co-founder and COO Peter Asbill calls a "gentleman's agreement" with other streaming services about a skip limit. Both Songza and Pandora have a six-song skip limit.

"People have said to me, 'That's great, you don't have a skip limit,'" says Asbill. "We do have a skip limit, but I guess if you're not reaching it, we're doing something right."

Your concierge awaits

Though Songza is great for a party playlist, the service is no fair-weather friend. They have playlists of all varieties. When you log on, it will tell you the day and time, and try to help you figure out what sort of tunes you're looking for. They have playlists for falling asleep, for waking up, for going to the beach, for reading and even for the workday.

"No one comes to Songza looking for American primitivism or film scores," says Roman, "but it turns out that those are both amazingly conducive to working in the office without offending anyone in the next cubicle, so those are among our most popular playlists."
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