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Google Antes Up Competition by Acquiring Beats Competitor Songza

The acquisition comes one month after Apple purchased Beats for $3 billion

July 1, 2014 5:50 PM ET
Songza  google
The Songza Logo
Courtesy Songza

In an effort to make Google Play Music more appealing, the company has acquired the music streaming service Songza, which offers curated playlists customized for situations like "Taking a Sunny Stroll," "Boosting Your Energy" or, appropriately, "Watching Soccer," all for free. Google has no plans to alter the service, according to a news post by the company, other than to incorporate it more into Google Play Music and integrate it more with YouTube. Songza's iOS and Android apps, as well as its website, will all maintain their typical functionality.

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Google had been reportedly scouting the service for several weeks and the news follows Apple's acquisition of Beats Electronics, including its streaming music service, for $3 billion. In an early June report, a source told The New York Post that Google had offered Songza around $15 million. The actual figure Google paid for the service has not been disclosed, but is believed to be higher.

The search company ultimately wants to incorporate Songza's playlists into its subscription service, Google Play Music All Access, Billboard reports. Although Google Play had a few human-curated playlists, it had been relying more on algorithm-related results to fuel its musical content.

Although the original Songza dates back to 2008, the version that dovetailed into the Google Play deal began life in 2010. Amazon became an investor in Songza – though the latter company's CEO claims it did not contribute playlists to the recently launched Amazon Prime Music service – and other notable investors include Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun and ex–Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter, the latter of whom now manages John Mayer.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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