The tech press loves next big things. Last summer it was Turntable.fm. Now it looks like Internet radio service Songza is this summer's next big thing in digital music. On Monday news spread that the service topped one million iOS downloads in just ten days. The Songza iPad app was released Thursday, June 7 and quickly became the top free iPad app in the U.S.
GigaOm calls Songza "mobile's newest star." A headline at Business Insider proclaims it "changes the way you discover music." The buzz has moved beyond tech blogs -- even Reuters wrote about it on Monday. All this attention has boosted consumer awareness of Songza. Searches for Songza at Google have spiked in mid-June, according to Google Trends.
There are business implications in Songza's sudden rise. And as I mentioned last week, Songza's upward trajectory caused Richard Greenfield, an equity analyst at BTIG, to warn that Pandora Media was clearly susceptible to competitive threats. Shares of Pandora dropped about 12% over the next two days, although they rebounded 7.1% to $11.47 on Monday on the heels of an upgrade to "overweight" from "market perform" by Albert Fried.
People seem to enjoy Songza because it's different than other Internet radio services. It offers playlists based on moods and interests, not artists and albums. A new-ish feature called Concierge helps users pick music at a given time of day ("Still Waking Up" and "Work or Study" were two options for late Monday morning). It's sort of like Spotify in that everything is based on playlists, but unlike Spotify it doesn't depend too much on Facebook and social features.
But for a moment let's keep Songza in perspective, shall we? iHeartRadio reached 10 million users in ten months. TuneIn claims to have 30 million users. Pandora has over 53 million active users. And history has taught us that next big things don't always work out. It was about a year ago that people were freaking out over a new social music service called Turntable.fm. The site sparked a short-lived revolution. Once threatened, Pandora and the other services went about their business. There will always be another next big thing. Songza seems to have the mettle to live out the current hype, but check back next summer.