YouTube and Google’s long, slow march toward possible music supremacy took a tentative step forward today as Google announced that it would fold its recent acquisition Songza into Google Play Music. Google acquired Songza over the summer and it was originally thought that the start-up’s music discovery technology would form a part of YouTube’s long delayed subscription music service, YouTube Music Key. Instead, Songza’s mood-based playlist creating features will become a part of Google Play Music, helping it to complete with the more sophisticated music discovery algorithms used by competitors like Spotify, Pandora and iTunes Radio.
Songza’s claim to fame is a music discovery feature which tailors playlists to the listener’s mood. That’s a novel difference from most streaming services which recommend music purely based on past listens and likes. Whether this gimmick is enough to set Google Play Music apart from its more popular competitors remains to be seen. Perhaps more interesting is what the choice to bring Songza to Google Play says about the future of YouTube Music Key.
The move suggests that Google plans to double down on Google Play Music given the major delays suffered by YouTube Music Key. Those setbacks include the departure of project manager Chris LaRosa and ongoing legal battles with independent record labels. Though YouTube continues to be a significant force in the music industry with its videos garnering millions of views and its statistics directly influencing the Billboard charts, the video giant has yet to emerge as a strong competitor in the streaming music wars. By contrast, Google’s existing music service, Google Play Music, has a comparatively small user base that could be coaxed to grow if the right technology and content were available.