Jul 19 AT 5:43 PM Clark Wimberly 3 Comments

Let Songza find your perfect party playlist

Songza

Songza is the new online radio kid on the block, boasting some stand-out features like ad-free playback and a “concierge” service that can pick your music based on what you might be doing. Having a BBQ, jogging on the trail, or sitting on the porch doing nothing, Songza has the tunes for you (and whatever you’re up to).

While the “concierge” service is a little gimmicky (it basically operates by the time of day), the playlists it gives you access to are not. Songza has thousands of playlists covering not only activities, but genres, moods, decades, and more. And yes I said playlists- these “stations” are actually curated lists of songs, which I’ve found are dang effective in setting a mood, be it a “sweaty pool party” or “coding my face off” (real playlists).

The playlists really are ad-free, with the only limitation coming in the number of skips allowed per hour (like we’ve come to know on Pandora). You’re only allowed to skip six tracks per hour, but the skips are tallied per playlist, so swapping playlists will restart your count.

The Good

Concierge picks music based on what you might be doing. Unlike other services that filter based on genre or musical tastes, Songza lets you browse by activity, with some real gems hidden throughout, like “90′s Club Bangers” and “Dubstep Haunted House”.

Playlists from some of your favorite sites and artists. Since Songza is playlist-based, someone’s gotta be doing the curating. Luckily for us, the service is well stocked with top websites, artists, and other music experts you probably recognize.

No ads, ever. I’ve been listening to Songza non-stop for weeks now and I still haven’t heard an ad. In addition to the app, there’s a full web-based service that’s just as easy to use and just as free.

Sonos integration, if that’s your thing. I figure this one doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you’ve got a Sonos system, take note that Songza is available via Sonos Labs. The integration is still being fine-tuned, but all the playlists and awesome concierge-ing still work great.

The Not So Good

Sometimes a playlist can get repetitive. While overall I really like the fact that the service is playlist-based, sometimes a playlist runs out before I’ve had my fill. When that happens, songs start to loop, something I don’t notice as often on other “dynamic” online radio services.

No ability to create your own playlists. For the time being, users are limited to playback only. While there’s no way to create your own playlists, the web version does include some limited social features, like showing who is listening to a playlist and Facebook comments.

The mascot isn’t much to look at. I’m sure someone will accuse me of being too picky here, but I’m totally tired of seeing the weird, toothy grin of the mascot (in the app icon and in the top corner of nearly every. single. screen.) It’s totally a small personal gripe, I just think the service would look much slicker without him.

Final Words

It seems like every few months we’ve got a new online radio service popping up, but far less often does one catch my eye. Something about the simple gimmick of the “concierge” was enough to draw my attention, and I’ve gotta say: picking music based on activity is delightful.

And if you don’t feel like living the lazy life and letting a concierge pick your music for you, there are plenty of other ways to serve up the tunes (check out the screen shot). Of course, you can save playlists for later, and Songza automatically keeps a list of your recent listens in case you unknowingly stumble upon something that strikes your fancy.

 

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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