Songza, our Editors’ Choice pick among free streaming music sites, brings its playlist-based service the Android platform. The free, ad-supported Android app presents music as themed playlists that you can discover by searching for artists, rifling through genres, or using the extremely cool Music Concierge, which serves up tunes based on your mood, time of day, and popular genres. The app offers a simple and unique way to discover artists you may not have known existed, but it lacks a vital feature found in the browser-based Songza: playlist creation and editing. Songza’s Android app is a solid offering that brings an interesting feature set to the table, but a few drawbacks keep it from besting Slacker Radio for iPhone, our mobile streaming Editors’ Choice pick.
The Songza Experience
You begin by either signing into Songza using your Facebook or Google credentials, or by creating/signing in with dedicated Songza credentials. If you sign in with your Google account, the app will automatically post updates to your Google+ stream, but you can tinker with settings to prevent it from doing so.
This brings you to the Songza Music Concierge, which prompts you to select music based on your mood and time of day. Songza displayed the time of day (Thursday afternoon), and I selected the “Getting Fired Up.” Songza then asked me to pick a genre from its “Today’s Party Rap” “Massive Dubstep Drops,” “Epic & Debauched Party Music,” “Gritty, Hardcore Rap,” “Pop Punk Pick-me-ups,” and “Massive House Motivators” selections.
After selecting “Gritty, Hardcore Rap,” I then chose “The World of Wu-Tang Clan” playlist, which served up non-stop tracks from the legendary rap crew’s many, many albums (and a few of the members’ guest appearances on non-Wu tracks). I enjoyed the mix that bounced to my ears—none of the songs felt out of place and the audio quality was pleasing. Unfortunately, Songza lacks song lyrics and an option that would let users stream complete albums (Songza’s all about the playlists). Songza also lets listeners skip a handful of songs per hour-typical for a free streaming music services-but it lacks a premium plan that would remove the visual ads and skip limitations
Tracks within playlists have the expected album art, artist, song, and album titles, but Songza also displays the playlist creator’s username and the number of songs within the collection (“The World of Wu-Tang Clan,” for example, contains 135 songs). You can also share playlists via email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other services via a menu bar at the top of the interface.
A menu bar at the bottom of the interface lets you give a song a thumb’s up or thumb’s up, which affects the recommended playlists. A drop-down (available on the Music Concierge screens), lets you select Popular (both trending and all-time hot playlists), My Playlists (recently played playlists and favorites), Explore (which lets you search for songs by genre, mood, culture, and more), Search, and Settings. There’s also a section that displays “Similar Playlists,” song collections that are similar to what you’re playing. Songza’s recommendations are excellent; it suggested “New York State of Mind” (odes to New York) and other ’90s hip hop playlists as I listened to Wu-Tang Clan flow.
Songza features an artist search that displays all the curated playlists featuring a performer. Even better, when you fire up one of those playlists, the first song that’s played will be from the artist you searched for, so you don’t have to wait to hear your favorite musician perform.
Songza for Android is missing two features found in Songza for iPhone: Audyssey’s audio enhancement technology (which improves headphone sound), and the ability to stream a playlists simply by tapping and holding a category icon. Those are relative small losses, but there is a bigger one.
The Songza Android app, despite carrying over many of the browser-based version’s capabilities, has one glaring flaw: It doesn’t let users create or edit playlists. That’s one of the Web version’s more attractive features-especially if you make a playlist editable by the entire Songza community, which results in intriguing mixes-so it’s a disappointment not to see it here as well. Songza states that playlist creation and editing is a feature that will be a Web-exclusive feature for the foreseeable future.
Singing the Songza
Songza for Android may lack the ability to create and edit playlists (and some of the iOS version’s currently exclusive features), but in terms of pure audio, it’s still an excellent streaming music app. Music discovery is effortless, and there are many entertaining playlists, too. Slacker for Android remains the top mobile streaming music app (and our Editors’ Choice in the category), as it’s a more comprehensive service that carries lifestyle content and live ESPN. But if you’re looking to serve up interesting mixes at your next party, Songza for Android is worth a download.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc