Music App Songza Latest to Target Classical Listeners

Sunday, July 01, 2012 - 12:00 AM

As the market for online services that stream music from computers and mobile devices expands, classical music listeners remain at least partly in companies' crosshairs.

Songza, an Internet radio service that creates playlists according to your mood, launched an iPad app earlier this month following success with its iPhone and web apps. It shot past market leader Pandora as the most popular free music app for Apple devices the week of June 10. Because it doesn’t contain audio ads, it has a potential leg up on Pandora, which charges $36 annually to avoid audio ads on its mobile apps. Slacker Inc., another online radio service, charges $4 a month to remove audio ads.

Also adding to the competition is the streaming service Spotify, which last Monday made its online radio service available as an app.

Songza offers free mood-and-situation based playlists in a range of genres, all created by programmers in their Long Island City, NY headquarters. These include 34 different playlists built around various classical music themes. Some focus on the major composers: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms and Stravinsky. Others are oriented towards neophytes and casual fans (“Welcome to Classical,” “Essential Classical”). Still others are tailored to specific lifestyle activities (“Classics for Studying,” “Classical Meditation,” “Classical for Sleeping”) and a handful are aimed at devotees (including an avant-garde channel).

A test drive of Songza revealed clear, uninterrupted audio but also some limitations that may bother a serious classical listener: data about artists, orchestras or conductors played was hit-or-miss. The service plays just one movement at a time, before moving on to something else. Additionally, by clicking on the “Music Concierge” function we were offered selections for “relaxing at home,” and “doing housework,” but these were focused on pop hits. 

Still, by offering up playlists around lifestyle themes like “unwinding after a long day,” ‘’working out,” and “eating dinner,” Songza has cornered a niche, and could eventually use such clues to appeal to advertisers. They will need the support. Online radio services have skyrocketed in popularity but that growth has vied with their ability to sell ads. All of these serves are struggling to survive in a business saddled with high royalty rates for artists. Songza, which was downloaded 1.15 million times in the 10 days since June 7, faces similar challenges.

For now, it’s still Pandora’s game to lose. According to comScore Inc., Pandora’s website alone racked up 1.2 billion listener hours in May, compared to 2 million for Songza.

With the Associated Press

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Comments [3]

Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (i.e., when WQXR was commercial and still, I believe had WNCN as competition, as well as a full day of music programmin on WNYC [those were the days!!!])I believe it was Tom Bartunik (sp.??) who was program director and who promised that WQXR would never do such a thing (play single movements of longer peices, etc.). Of course, that promise fell by the wayside during the commercial days (realiteis of needing to run those ads, etc.), and has not been followed even now on "non-commercial" QXR (what about all those "promotional spots"? ads in disguise?)
Anyway: perhaps we are plugging this pap on this station to get us ready for the new, improved WQXR of the future. Radio is so old-fashioned (witness all those annoying filler moments - enough to add up to the first movememnt of Mahler's Second) given over to telling us, ad nauseam, that the station is now on your smart phone! downlod the free app . . . ) that soon we can dispense with the silly business of having an announcer in the first place.

Watch this space! (as the billboards used to say).

Jul. 06 2012 12:24 PM
Joseph Miller from Washington, D.C.

Not sure how one can have a classical music service without announcers. These announcers do more than announce the name of the performer and composition, they educate listeners on historical context and other information. This is not something I should have to read, nor is it safe to read, while I am driving.

Jul. 02 2012 01:51 PM
Daniel Polowetzky from NYC

Featuring single movements from symphonies is slightly nauseating!
They are not "songs", to use Apple terminology.

Jul. 01 2012 10:49 PM

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