The latest company to be bought by Google is US-based streaming music service Songza, in a deal that the New York Times claims is worth more than $39m.
Songza hasn't launched outside the US and Canada, so it's not very well known outside North America. While the reported price is small beans to Google, it could be a very important acquisition for the company's streaming music ambitions.
What is Songza, then? Google provided a neat summary in its Google+ post announcing the deal: "They’ve built a great service which uses contextual expert-curated playlists to give you the right music at the right time."
Available as Android and iOS apps, Songza has a team of people creating playlists to match various times of the day and week; activities (from working out and driving to cooking and "being single"); and even different weather conditions.
In 2014, this may not sound that special. Spotify's Browse page offers playlists tuned to your current time, situation and mood, created by an internal editorial team built following Spotify's acquisition of Swedish music startup Tunigo in May 2013.
US rival Beats Music has a feature called The Sentence: a multiple-choice form that tells it what you're doing and how you're feeling ("I'm at the beach and feel like celebrating with my family to the 80s" for example) before serving up a relevant playlist.
In 2012, when Songza relaunched its service with its "Music Concierge" option for contextual playlists, it was pioneering, and its steady growth in the US – it had 5.5m active users by the end of 2013 – was the spur for those bigger rivals to introduce similar features.
That's what Google is buying: a popular personalised radio app with a team of playlist curators, and lots of data on how people have been listening to that music – never underestimate the importance of data in a Google acquisition.
For now, Songza will continue as a standalone app. "We aren't planning any immediate changes to Songza, so it will continue to work like usual for existing users," explained Google's announcement.
"Over the coming months, we’ll explore ways to bring what you love about Songza to Google Play Music. We'll also look for opportunities to bring their great work to the music experience on YouTube and other Google products."
Songza will also bring Google some lessons on charging for streaming music. Originally free, in 2013 it introduced a subscription tier called Club Songza, charging $0.99 a week for users to remove ads and be able to skip more songs.
At the moment, the Google Play Music All Access streaming service costs $9.99 a month in the US – that translates to £9.99 in the UK, matching Spotify, Deezer and other rivals – although Google is also preparing to launch a second subscription service under YouTube's brand.
Songza could be useful for both, as they try to build up a head of steam against competition from Spotify, Deezer, Rdio and other streaming services, including the now Apple-owned Beats Music.
The bigger story here, just as it was for Rdio's acquisition of music app TastemakerX earlier in the week, is about discovery: streaming services wanting to be more accessible to mainstream music fans who may be intimidated by the idea of plunging into a catalogue of 20m-30m songs.
One final under-reported point about Songza: Amazon could have owned it since 2010. Songza in its current form launched in 2012, but it started life in 2007 as a music search engine for people to search for songs online and create playlists from them.
In 2008, it was bought by a digital music store called Amie Street, which in turn was acquired by Amazon in September 2010. The team behind Songza stayed independent, and eventually relaunched as apps with the Music Concierge feature.
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