Internet radio service Songza has partnered with location-based social network Foursquare to reward its listeners for checking into music venues.
 
Beginning Monday (Sept. 30), Songza users that check into venues on Foursquare will get a Songza badge and be given access to a special playlist that was curated in collaboration with Foursquare. In the coming weeks, Songza will unveil the second level of the Songza badge. The first 500 people to unlock the second level will receive six months of free listening on its advertising-free premium level of service, Songza Club.
 
The partnership is rooted in the two companies' home of New York. The Songza-Foursquare tie-up will be officially announced Monday evening at event hosted by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg for "We Are Made in NY," the city's economic development initiative that highlights its technology community.
 
The New York theme extends to a list of venues Songza has contributed to Foursquare, although other technology centers like Austin and San Francisco are also represented. Canada, where Songza launched in August 2012, has its own list of 15 music venues. "Unexpected Best Venues Ever in NYC" offers three hole-in-the-wall music venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn. "Best Brooklyn Venues to Stand Close to Bands" lists 11 venues including Glassland Gallery, Union Pool and Death By Audio.
 
Songza co-founder and chief content officer Eric Davich answered some questions about the partnership, its relevance to Songza's mobile users, and how Songza tries to stand out in an increasingly crowded Internet radio field.
 
Billboard.biz: Why partner with Foursquare?
Eric Davich: We've been wanting to collaborate with Foursquare for a long time for several reasons. We see our services as very complementary to one another in that we both aim to make your life better right now: Songza does that based on what you're doing and Foursquare does that based on where you and your friends are. Additionally, Songza and Foursquare are both "Made In NY" companies and are both very enthusiastic about uniting with our neighbors and raising the profile of the New York City tech community.
 
The venue list is extremely heavy on New York. What about the rest of the country?
What you're seeing now is just the beginning of a bigger rollout that we'll be doing on Foursquare. Since we're based in New York City, it seemed only natural to start with the venues that we're most familiar with. But we've also included places as far away as the Gorge Amphitheatre in Eastern Washington, as well as a slew of venues that we checked into at Austin during various trips to South by Southwest. As we continue to populate our list with both popular as well as unexpected venues from all over the United States and Canada, we'll lean heavily on our Foursquare followers to help us identify some essential venues that we're missing.

The partnership is well suited for mobile users of Songza. How much of your listening hours come from smartphones?
We like to describe Songza as "mobile first" both in terms of our product development cycle as well as our usage. About 75% of our usage is attributed to mobile handsets and tablets, so we anticipate that Songza users are on the go most of the time. 

The Internet radio market just got more crowded a couple weeks ago. What is Songza doing to differentiate itself?
Songza's product is expert-curated lifestyle enhancement. A better workout. A better cocktail party. A better night of sleep. We still feel that we have a very, very different product than transactional music services, which require a user to think of and then type in a song, artist or album in order to listen to music.

But beyond that, we are continuing to connect with consumers by betting on our taste-making opinion and injecting human personality into every element of our curation. Whether it's making playlists for Twerking or working on advertising campaigns with brands like Taco Bell to create experiences that help people "Get Hyped." Our storytelling through personality is what has, and will continue to, allow us to connect with consumers in a way that's uniquely human.

 


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