Feature Friday: Concierge

Eighty percent of all music listening happens in lean back mode where someone or something plays the music for you. That's a fact. I am not sure where I saw it, but I believe it to be true based on my own music listening experience.

That's why I haven't found iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, or any of the "on demand" experiences particularly inspiring. I've used all of them at one time or another and our family still logs a fair bit of time on Rdio and Rhapsody (which we've had for something like thirteen years now).

But there is something magical about logging into a music service and having music start playing that you love and you don't need to do anything to make it happen. It's also true that these lean back experiences are better for music discovery. That's the role that old fashioned radio has been playing in the music business for as long as I've been alive.

I have been using several rooms in Turntable (my favorite being Indie While You Work) for the past year for this purpose. And it has served it incredibly well.

But Turntable is not available on Sonos and the hack where I airplay into my Sonos from my laptop is just that, a hack that isnt' ideal. So I've been looking for a great lean back experience on the Sonos for a long time. And Pandora isn't that for me and has never been.

This spring I noticed that Songza was available on Sonos in the "Sonos Labs" area. We've had Songza on the Sonos in our homes for at least three months now and it has quickly become the most used music service on Sonos in our homes.

And the reason is a feature they call Concierge. Instead of asking you what artist you like as Pandora does, Songza notices what time of day it is and then asks you what you are doing. I am writing this post at 6:53am and Songza's Concierge looks like this on my Sonos (pardon the photography, I had a tough time with the glare off the screen of the iPad):

Songa 1

When I select "Working Out", I see this screen:

Songza 2

When I select "Eclectic Workout Mixes", I get this screen:

Songza 3

Then you select your playlist and the music starts playing.

All of these playlists have been constructed by real humans, so it's more like a real DJ on the radio playing music for you than an algorithm in the cloud somewhere. I prefer that as I mentioned in that link on Pandora.

I've turned all my kids onto Songza and they love it. And they've turned their friends onto it and their friends love it too. So I think Songza works for all ages and all types of music.

But don't listen to me. Give it a try. Songza is available on the web, on Android, on iOS, and on Sonos. It's awesome on Sonos so if you have one, I strongly encourage you to add Songza to it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    as i’m sure you know you can do “lean back” listening in rhapsody and all the others via their radio function — i.e. a radio station based on artist X. all these algorithmic things usually fail to give me stuff i like, though. i use playlists for stuff i’ve found that i like, and manual searching based on friend recommendations and app recommendations for discovery.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. that’s just like pandora, which i don’t find interesting

      1. brian trautschold

        while i typically agree, recently I had a pretty “ecstatic user experience” with pandora. Created a new station based on 1 song I loved from roughly 6 years ago – immediately was met by a grossly nostalgic/ awesome playlist… in that case the algorithms worked brilliantly… or I am just super stereotypical…

  2. JimHirshfield

    Love Songza. Made in NYC. Found out about them when they presented at NY Tech Meetup.

    1. fredwilson

      i love this made in NYC listhttp://nytm.org/made-in-nyc…

  3. John Best

    The whole search/curate/concierge/share thing I find fascinating.There is a definite difference between consuming content that we’ve prepared, that has been prepared for us, and that an algorithm has distilled for us.Content we prepare is satisfying (we know best what we like, right?) but takes time, and only shows us what we knew.Content prepared for us has the additional aspect of discovering something new from an “expert’s” perspective, but tastes obviously differ, and not all discovery is positive. Usually there’s a cost association too.Content derived through an algorithm is a mixture of both – its stuff we *should* like, with minimal cost and effort, but can feel soulless, and can be just plain wrong.

    1. fredwilson

      such a great way to think about itthis is what i listen to as much as anything elsehttp://fredwilson.fmwhich is “consuming content that we’ve prepared’

      1. John Revay

        I was freeing up room on my PC…and accidentally deleted some flash components – since then I can not get FW.fm to play any more.

        1. fredwilson

          kirk is helping me fix that. fw.fm should be flash free soon.

    2. brian trautschold

      This. This is exactly what we’ve been working on. There is such a wide spectrum of user-preferences… we think there is still so much value & improvement to be made.I think your sentiment is dead on though – every experience is distinctly different.

  4. David Semeria

    I’ve long believed that the ultimate human-curated streamed music service has already been invented.It’s called radio.

    1. fredwilson

      yes. all of this, pandora, songza, even turntable, is radio, just enhanced by the two way system known as the internet

      1. David Semeria

        The killer feature of the two-way link is the ability to skip a track (and turntable adds a neat social element to this).Here’s an idea: provide a similar crowd-sourced system for real-time radio shows….

        1. Michael Dougherty

          hi David, that actually exists in around 70 markets (it’s called jelli.com). We combine old school radio with social web platform. The platform uses iPhone and Android to enable listeners to crowdsource actual FM radio station, based on a catalog of song choices selected by the station. Listeners vote on tracks, and can use a powerup called a rocket to enhance their chance to get their song on the air. When a user rocket plays, the user’s name is read out of the air, with a cool intro. Listeners can interact with each other as well. We have just launched a way to allow the radio spots to be improved as well from this engagement.

          1. David Semeria

            Hi Mike, that’s sounds very cool. Will checkout http://jelli.com and report back.Edit: ah, the usual “not available outside of the US” msg. Will check it out when I have time to fire up our US proxy.

          2. Michael Dougherty

            thanks @hymanroth:disqus ! Android has most usage for us (best UX probably), with iPhone second and our website 3rd. We’re about 80/20 mobile vs. web engagement. Our station in Vegas has the most active community (it is an electronic/dance format which works well for that community/city).

          3. Michael Dougherty

            ug – sorry about that – we don’t have international rights in all markets (given we do stream as well). We’re launching our first international market in a couple of months however, with a local radio group who is covering the rights, so hopefully that will change soon.

          4. ShanaC

            what markets does jelli broadcast in?

      2. andyidsinga

        aka “a series of tubes” πŸ˜‰

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Lol. BBC Radio 6 certainly takes some beating – must admit I don’t use my iPod/etc much nowadays as we have a DAB radio in every room and if in a eclectic music mood, BBC Radio 6 – or 3 – usually does it for us, 99% of the time.The remaining 1% of the time is spent in our loft playing old vinyl :-)http://beta.bbc.co.uk/6music

      1. David Semeria

        I’m a radio 4 man myself, but BBC radio in general is certainly the gold standard for me.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Agree. Too much choice; mostly have each room tuned into a different BBC channel, to suit the typical mood/context – BBC radio DAB/online is such a rich service, adore it.Lounge is usually BBC R6 – Bedroom usually BBC R4Extra, Kitchen usually BBC R4, Home Office always BBC R3 …We’re so lucky to have ‘Auntie Beeb’ πŸ™‚

          1. Ciaran

            I can never understand when people bitch about the licence fee in the UK. I think it represents good value for the radio alone.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Absolutely. The BBC’s Olympics coverage was staggering – 24 real-time parallel channels online and via TV at peak of games. All for the standard few quid per month. Compare that to the Sky/etc rip-off – let alone the lack of quality re: 90% of their (Sky, et al) output.

          3. Ciaran

            Quite. Β£12 a month, for all of that. Plus Gilles Peterson, David Attenborough & Jeremy Paxman. Spotify, Β£10 a month. Hmmmmm.

          4. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Is that how much Spotify is? Ouch. Insane.

          5. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            love the BBC for news as well.

      2. fredwilson

        i have my turntable connected to my sonos and i’ve been playing a lot of vinyl this past week

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith


        2. Ricardo Parro

          Fred do you need any special device to connect your turntable to your sonos?

          1. fredwilson


    3. aweissman

      +100. I miss radio, WPLJ, WNEW etc

      1. William Mougayar

        Andy, Have you tried http://tunein.com/ on either Android or iPhone. They have hundreds of live from the US and worldwide. It’s my go-to for streaming. They might have these stations for you at your fingertips.

        1. aweissman

          never new about it – awesome – thanks

          1. William Mougayar

            It makes the world feel very small when any local station around the world is accessible at your fingertips and you listen in real-time the same thing that locals are hearing.

          2. aweissman

            ok been using to listen to WFMU all morning. Tunein could be a must use app for me now

          3. William Mougayar

            Cool. I like to play french or italian local stations from the south of france or rome and pretend I’m there!

      2. kenberger

        in the 80s, WLIR, and when it became WDRE, kept me proud to be a Long Islander (it sure wasn’t the Islanders).

        1. aweissman

          i loved WLIR

        2. aweissman

          i recall the first time I ever was in SF and listening to KOME . . .

          1. kenberger

            Also great at the time was 91X in San Diego– they had a hi-gain antenna pointed north from Tijuana! And I DJ’ed with a vengeance at WICB, Ithaca. On my last shift in ’87, they were installing their first CD players, to great backlash since it’s tougher to segue songs properly (can’t wind back the disc with your finger and release).

      3. daryn

        I remember how cool it seemed when I moved out west, and all of the call letters started with K instead of W…

    4. Anne Libby

      Radio old school — Vin Scelsa in NYC, Terri Hemmert in Chicago (back in the day.)

      1. laurie kalmanson


      2. aweissman

        respect to Vin Scelsa

    5. Ciaran

      Agree 100%. Good radio DJs, and they’re a rare breed, manage to bring the serendipity of new music and add it to humour and emotion, which no Spotify or similar will ever do. Pardon the plug, but a post I wrote a while back sums up my thoughts on this: http://www.wcrs.com/blog/20

      1. David Semeria

        Nice post.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Absolutely. Well said.

    6. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      love this comment and completely agree!!

    7. Brandon Marker

      regular radio for classic rock, jazz, etc. is awesome. Radio for new [rap, hip hop, rock, alternative] music is cluttered with pop and wannabes. Not to mention the 80/20 rule almost makes sense for the popular stuff. Haven’t used a radio since I was 16 unless I was with someone else. And I mean that literally πŸ™‚

      1. David Semeria

        That’s a problem with the curation, not with the medium.

        1. Brandon Marker

          yeah but you referenced the ultimate human-curated medium. I am not talking about the concept of the radio medium. I have nothing against it. What I am speaking towards is this human-curated medium is playing the same songs day in and day out. Plus, CCCI has that all on lockdown.Radio is dying because we killed it. Instead of listening to the same songs that sound the same as the ones coming next month, users are moving to online services providing unique listening experiences that are almost completely unstructured. Its a beautiful thing to me.

          1. David Semeria

            Can you explain what you mean by “unique listening experience”?

          2. Brandon Marker

            could be 100% user created, could be a mashup of 5 different genres, could be indie + mainstream, could be a shared station that myself and 5 of my closest friends have created. The best part is all of this can be at my desk, on a tablet, or streaming via cellular network in my truck or someone else’s vehicle.Turntable is about as unique an experience I have ever had with music discovery. It is also the online music source that has kept me coming back for the longest.I just feel –completely opinionated observation coming– that so many of us are looking for accessibility and options. Lots of options. Radio no longer provides that.

          3. ShanaC

            I find I can’t keep track of what is played on turntable – so it makes it hard to remember what you discovered long term.

          4. Brandon Marker

            agreed! If I don’t head to Spotify and store or star it, I’ll forget.

          5. ShanaC

            exactly! it has totally turned me off from the experience. I don’t know how to dj , and I am never going to learn without keeping track of the music, and I can’t πŸ™

        2. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Absolutely. A sh-t radio station or DJ invariably plays sh-t music. Or is way too meme – Plato’s caves and shadows scenario, especially with many of the online streams.I have found far more interesting new acts via (eg) BBC R6 and R3 than via any online stream.

          1. Brandon Marker

            hmm… checking out BBC! Thanks!

      2. ShanaC

        OMG – yes- and most top 40s the quality totally varies.How are you finding new music these days

        1. Brandon Marker

          I am a FIEND!!! I use about 6 different services and I dig, dig, dig.–Spotify is the best resource for easily finding good music.–Soundcloud is amazing for indie. –Random turntable rooms can give me some gems. –General iTunes digging is a little easier than Spotify digging sometimes. –YouTube (I know) is pretty good. I select a fully uploaded cd, hit play, at the end I click a related one and keep the genre going. Sometimes I’ll find a user channel that has a collection of full CDs that I can use for a couple days. –And then Spotify sharing provides some good stuff. Friends send me stuff a lot. Usually we send each other songs that are out of the comfort zone. Except for Country. I live in Texas and don’t care for anymore of that, hahaI was sued for downloading and do not touch pirating. I have a system to continue discovery. Its not as easy as it was, but I am still listening to new stuff all the time

          1. ShanaC

            I’m still finding it difficult to find stuff on soundcloud – though now I feel like I should be following you on the interwebs about music :)Youtube can be excellent – and I did not know about that feature on youtube.The one thing I can’t live without is last.fm + spotify. Saves my life, but unfortunately I need to add in some other sorts of sounds – the music is getting to similar sounding recently (except for the addition of klezmer, but I problematically don’t like traditional klezmer)

          2. Brandon Marker

            Soundcloud demand a little work to skip around. And not sure why, but my last.fm account goes unused. I like it and all, but the discovery doesn’t give me what I want; kind of pigeonholed in my experiences.Klezmer is f.u.n.! When I hear it I want to be in a dim pub with friends drinking good beer and eating the cuisine to match πŸ˜€

          3. ShanaC

            I linked my last.fm to my spotify and then use the last.fm spotify app – works extremely well.I associate klezmer with dancing in a smokey very jewish club on the les circa 1930. Which is weirdly enough, what my grandfather actually did in 1930. Though that might be because the music sounds like a much more fun version (when done well) of the stuff I hear at religious friend’s weddings.You need to hear Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird. Lost Causes is a brilliant disc, so is Partisans and Parasites (just for the Khurbn Katrina/The Destruction of New Orleans pairing – split on the CD but actually one song – and probably the most brilliant mashup of Klezmer to New Orleans Jazz Funeral March). And his music doesn’t sound dated either, it sounds like klezmer of the 21st century with a lot of brecht thrown in. Though I have to say DK is much much better to listen to in person.(The destruction of new orleans – http://www.youtube.com/watc… this song was originally about the titanic and dates to 1912rats: http://youtu.be/UprNbs6M6c8… this is contemporaryMarch of the Jobless corp – http://youtu.be/6KFVVKFxr60 actually this song dates to 1930)Finding this kind of obscurity on the internet I still find problematic. Bands like the painted bird are hard to classify (folk/world/gypsy-punk/klezmer???) which makes it hard to find people to talk to about them. I was at a Painted Bird Concert recently. Most of the people there were older than me, because this kind of music has no base in the US of young people (in germany and eastern europe, it is a different story, but I am from the US). That is where discovery gets difficult.

          4. Brandon Marker

            awesome, thanks for the recommendations!! I am going to be passing these along to my grandma, as well. I think she will appreciate the newer age sounds of the genre.new music is like a free gift, and its everywhere, all the time πŸ™‚

          5. Brandon Marker

            Thanks for all the music links and recs!!! I checked it all out this weekend, liked the painted bird!

          6. ShanaC

            πŸ™‚ New Convert!A good thing, since Daniel Kahn actually is a mensch in person – also way more entertaining in concert than recorded.

          7. Laurent Boncenne

            If you ever need to find another way to discover music and listen to pretty much anything, check out http://8tracks.com if you don’t know it already =)TNW had an article some time ago about music discovery, maybe you can find something new there, here’s the link: http://thenextweb.com/insid

          8. Brandon Marker

            thanks for both of these links! I am going to be checking out 8tracks this weekend.

          9. Laurent Boncenne

            anytime! =)

    8. John Revay

      I often listen to music while I am driving in the car….sometimes I am driving in areas with weak cell coverage, especially 3G.Radio always works – I just hate commercialsI am too cheap to to turn on the satellite radio service in the car

    9. ShanaC

      I almost never listen to radio outside of npr – hell I can’t even find a good station in NY

    10. CJ

      Yep, except it varies widely based on market, has increased advertising and is often subject to the will of FCC obscenity rules and advertiser wants. Other than that, yeah – perfect.

  5. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Apropos the importance of music to our lives, an interesting social/demographic exercise by The Guardian was launched this week…http://www.fastcocreate.com

    1. fredwilson

      six is not enough. sixty is not enough. maybe six hundred

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        I know – but, interesting way to focus the mind and what songs are really emotive to you and when/why/context – agree, impossible, but fun/interesting anyway – all part of the fascination of the long-running Desert Island Discs, I guess – with whole archive of that is now online! Fascinating stuff if forced to choose just a few records, and why.If not familiar with it:http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4…Can you guys get this out there and listen to it? Or do same BBC TV iPlayer copyright/media restrictions apply internationally? Would be cool if you can get the radio services at least – a vast BBC resource – can’t recall trying it when I have been abroad in recent years.

        1. ShanaC

          what music have you been finding emotive recently?

    2. ShanaC

      next week I’m invited to a secret kumsitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…* for basically this reason. One of the reasons I think religious ritual life is so tied to music is that music plucks on the heartstrings.One of the great losses of the secular age we are fully entering is that there isn’t the same spaces for group singing for nonprofessional in communities. (outside of summer camp and the occasional protest song).Music is really important. So are all the arts. Sometimes I wonder if we can find our way to the mysteries they create and answer for us….

  6. jason wright

    My meals always taste better when someone else cooks them.

    1. fredwilson

      my meals always taste better when gotham gal cooks them

  7. William Mougayar

    So is it Β the programming that makes the difference? I see Songza as another take on channels programming. Am I missing something. Β I listen to TuneIn on the iPhone and try stream all kinds of music by genre, topic, language, locations, etc.Β I just downloaded Songza to try it out, and I’m currently Singing in the Shower.Β 

    1. fredwilson

      commenting in the shower?

      1. William Mougayar

        Yeah! I mixed Disqus commenting and Songza’s Listening in the Shower and the result was Commenting in the Shower.Now listening to 100 Worst Songs Ever. I hope I’ll have a good day though πŸ™‚

  8. kpwriting.com

    I use playlists for stuff I’ve found that I like.

  9. jason wright

    We are very sorry to say that due to licensing constraints we cannot allow access to Songza for listeners located outside of the United States and Canada.Based on your IP address, we believe that you are located outside of the United States and Canada. Please accept our deepest apology for restricting your access to Songza; we share your disappointment and frustration.Everyone should have the right to enjoy this service and we are committed to launching Songza in every possible country. We will work assiduously to obtain the requisite licenses where they exist. If you would like to be notified by email when Songza is available in your country, please enter your country of residence and email address in the form below.Thank you for your understanding and support. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]. We hope to see you back on Songza in the very near future.Sincerely,Team Songza

    1. fredwilson


      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        x10Deja Vu…

      2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        While I wish that these services were globally available – it does present an opportunity for regional startups to move and try and claim this domain. For example, yesterday I read about”Spotify partners with Deutsche Telekom in Germany to offer bundled subscriptions and unlimited streaming” My immediate reaction was that they are very clever in making sure they own the European market and making it difficult to competitors outside Europe to compete http://tnw.co/QCobSa

    2. William Mougayar

      Sorry to hear. Weird because on TuneIn I can choose live FM stations from 140 countries in dozens of languages.

      1. jason wright

        I’m sorry not to be hearing :-)Canada does seem to be a pleasing sweet spot of opportunities.

        1. William Mougayar

          I was pleasantly surprised that Canada was ‘in”. I wished it was more global definitely.

          1. Dale Allyn

            William, my daughter sent me this link several days ago (her company is split b/n U.S. and Canada, so they share such things): http://cantada.ca/ I thought of you and the many AVC’ers in Canada who often mention such things (and those in Europe with similar experiences).

          2. William Mougayar

            Yikes. Not good… That’s why I was so happy that Songza was available. Or maybe they are still flying below the radar. The RCMP or some licensing police will soon ban them in Canada, especially that this discussion mentioned them several times.

      2. ShanaC

        they don’t have galgalatz πŸ™

    3. Bruno_dR

      Same problem with Turntable… not available outside the US. Licensing shame…

      1. fredwilson

        That’s getting fixed. Soon.

        1. jason wright

          I look forward to that.

        2. Bruno_dR

          Awesome news Fred. You talk a lot about it but over here in Europe we can’t experience.Looking forward to it too.

    4. jason wright

      ….and this last week I was able to listen to a song being broadcast from…. Mars. This planet needs fixing. It’s bonkers.

  10. Jorge M. Torres

    Songza is very cool.Best part? Their HQ is in LIC, Queens, NYC.

    1. fredwilson

      yupi think LIC will be the next startup spot

      1. ShanaC

        i vote metrotech. Depending on what poly does

      2. Jukay Hsu

        We love Songza and they’re a great part of the Queens Tech Community! Great to see NYC’s tech community continuing to grow. Hope to show everyone some of the other great startups in LIC. Come join us for a future Queens Tech Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/queens-tech Fred, would love to get your feedback on our work to grow the LIC and NYC tech community

  11. GΓΈran Berntsen

    Would love to try Songza (and Turntable for that matter) but it seems both are US only for now.. πŸ™

    1. William Mougayar

      Canada is good too with the US. Yeah!

  12. William Mougayar

    I definitely give Songza’s Concierge an A for creativity in picking channel names, Driving with Kids, Left-lane driving, Cure for Road Rage, New York Night walk, Breakfast at Bouchon Bakery, etc

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Great stuff.I like Country Music That Ain’t Slick

      1. William Mougayar

        Food for Funk & Rockability Cats from the Barbecuing collection.Code your Face Off & Math Rock from the Coding collection.I’m going to mandate that my team listen to Code your Face Off daily!!

      2. Wavelengths

        Do they play Gangstagrass?

      3. Wavelengths

        This is stuff I think gets lost in the “clouds.” Great stuff, buried on the lp.You might relate to this when you look at you and Gotham Gal:http://www.youtube.com/watc

    2. matthughes

      I am having “breakfast at bouchon bakery” so I will report back on how closely the music matches the actual experience.

      1. William Mougayar

        Lol. I just finished Driving with Kids, after Singing and Commenting in the Shower. Now watching my team Coding their Face Off. I will end with Dinner on the Thames and Irritated Ear Drums.

        1. Wavelengths

          I’m working on “new puppy.”

      2. ShanaC

        how is the breakfast?

        1. matthughes

          Delicious. Tasty. Decadent. All that. #sogoodTrying to post a pic but Disqus is going haywire.

        2. matthughes

          Update: pic attached. :)Actual breakfast at Bouchon is better than the accompanying music but the music is still really good.

          1. ShanaC


  13. John Revay

    hummmmm,my music taste and sources have certainly changed over the last year or so since joining AVC. I started out loading a bunch of OLD music into iTunes>iPhone…even made several trips going to a local library to copy more old stuff.EX.FM – After reading several of the posts on this blog, I have certainly changed – deleted all music from iTunes, free-ed up space on the phone. I have been mostly using Ex.FM – I get a lot of newer suggestions from from following people – yes I do follow & “love” some of the tracks that he has. It seems like they had some technical issues a month or so ago…so I have not been back as much.Turntable – I tried and do use Turntable ( & and yes I have seen fred bopping to music over at the Indie While You Work room – in the early AM) – I have not been there much lately.Songza – I have it loaded on the phone – I did like the categories – I will have to try and give it another go.Soundcloud – Fred – maybe SC is not into discovery – or recommending – are they missing something here?Bonus – I sent to CrunchBase this AM after reading the post – scrolling down I found some interesting stats of site visits – last 5 months traffic has certainly started to rise.

    1. ShanaC

      Soundcloud actually has some interesting stuff floating by. I sometimes listen what I subscribe to on commutes. Definitely by far one of the best “stations” is this one by the smithsonianhttp://soundcloud.com/smith…I love the fact that this station just exists. Putting our musical history on the open web is truly an amazing gift and a fascinating thing.I have to admit I find it hard to find interesting music there though. If I could switch over, I would. I do think it is one of the best ways to broadcast your podcast on the open web though. Or recording stuff to sample later.

    2. Laurent Boncenne

      try 8tracks for user created mix, it isn’t 100% soundcloud focused, but a lot of the mix have tunes from soundcloud and you obviously get a link to the tune’s soundcloud page for you to like or download =)

  14. Barry Nolan

    Our old friend, Mr & Mrs Copyright.

    1. jason wright

      If they had a baby what would they name it I wonder?

  15. David Brunow

    Have you tried out the great feature in Rdio that allows you to listen/subscribe to other people’s playlists? For example, if I am in a poppy mood, I put on the iTunes Top 400 playlist that someone updates every other week.

    1. fredwilson

      I haven’t done thatRdio to me is on demand, not radio

    2. Nate Quigley

      That’s why I love Rdio. But I use the “Play Station” feature more often. Find someone interesting, follow them, play their station. So it’s less like listening to the radio, and more like hanging out with someone with a killer music collection. You’re in their room, they’re playing stuff for you. Reminds me of the old days.Then sometimes I dig around and find what I want, add to my own Collection. Best of both worlds for me.

  16. DCTech

    Awesome Fred I have been looking for something like this on Sonos as well. Thanks for the tip.

  17. Alan Mendelevich

    The problem with human curated music lists for me is that they get stale pretty fast. I can listen repeatedly to my own playlists, but not someone else’s. It’s either old-school radio or Pandora (which I haven’t tried in ~10 years due to stupid US-only stuff) for me.

    1. fredwilson

      I am not sure why but these don’t. They must change them up. I listen to coffee shop indie almost every morning and it is never the same

      1. Alan Mendelevich

        That’s cool as long as they can fund the editors πŸ™‚ Anyway it’s US-only. Someone should replace UN with an organization that would solve all these stupid regional content licensing problems.

  18. Matt A. Myers

    If you want to search for more human-curated music head over to http://8tracks.com

    1. Laurent Boncenne

      8tracks is great, They’ve been very active lately and I think it’s for the best. best part is the ability to like any song and their soundcloud integration. I don’t know if you’ve ever created a mix, but you can directly search music from soundcloud to add to your mix, it’s pretty cool.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I haven’t tried to create any. That’s a good integration.

  19. jason wright

    “All of these playlists have been constructed by real humans”.Who are they, where are they? I don’t get the process that’s going on here in constructing the lists.

  20. John Rorick

    Eclectic and “Jock Jams” should not be a part of the same list. This might have killed my Songza participation before it even starts…Cue the ‘2 Unlimited’ greatest hits album. πŸ™‚

  21. Britt O'Halloran

    Indie While You Work is now the current most popular turntable room, surely because of this post.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      It’s like that much of the time.

  22. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    It is not just music that I listen to but also I find news is much better on the radio than most of satellitle news channels. I heard about Stitcher app (iPhoe only) that is apparently pretty good http://www.stitcher.com/ – Also, as @wmoug:disqus mentioned – TuneIn is excellent and I am fan of BBC and NPR radios

  23. Daniele Novaga

    You should definitely check out http://www.stereomood.com, a streaming service that offers curated playlists of independent music based on your mood that makes music recommendations more serendipitous. It is the only β€˜music-by-mood’ streaming service on the web to solely feature music from independent artists and/or labels. A free, alternative method of discovering fresh music aggregated from blogs (like Pitchfork, XLR8R, Stereogum, etc), hand-curated by staff and community members into mood-specific playlists.http://www.forbes.com/sites

    1. ShanaC

      that seems a little more along the line of things I am looking for

        1. Laurent Boncenne

          hahaha this is awesome!

          1. andyidsinga

            oh my gawd – thats awesome – plus the heavy metal like art is *classic*edit : the art is like a mix of heavy metal and anime – very cool πŸ˜‰

    2. andyidsinga

      okay – I’ve fallen in love with this site in about 15 minutes!I love how when you play a song the player widget links back to the blog posts they got it from .. so you can go get immersed.

    3. Fazal Ashfaq

      Hi Daniele,Thank you for recommending stereomood.com. I’m in love with this site!

    4. fredwilson

      so kind of like exfm meets songza?

      1. Guest
      2. Daniele Novaga

        …exactly! We want to create a place for lovers of independent music to find new sounds in a more experiential way, above and beyond just searching by genre. The best music drives your emotions, so what better way to discover music than by the way it makes you feel? It’s up to the crowd to emotionally classify something as subjective as music. Like hastags to twitter, Stereomood tags generate the new crowdsourced and emotionally-driven taxonomy of music.

        1. fredwilson

          i am listening now. thanks!

  24. kirklove

    I’ve tried this and it’s always a meh for me. Never quite right and the categories are way too liberal.Pimp time: I find my Tumblr stream through exfm to be the best because it’s from “my music friends”. I trust that shit implicitly. Songza’s algorithms not so much.

    1. William Mougayar

      Hey Kirk. Couldn’t you add a couple of funky categories to the ExFM Explore tab? Eg. Coffee with Kirk, Steak Mood Tonight, Up and Down Manhattan … just saying

      1. kirklove

        We’re exploring just that and a few other things. It’s not easy. No one has really cracked it yet.

        1. Wavelengths

          Where does Gangstagrass fit?

    2. ShanaC

      thank you – and the music on sognza can be all over the place (why is friday late morning work music 90s pop? and if it is, why is my pandora version of the same station so much better!!!)I do like the fact that they try to curate though.And how do you find out which friends have better music?

      1. kirklove

        I listen. The beautiful thing about music is it is completely subjective. That also happens to be what makes algorithms bad in the long run.

        1. ShanaC

          yes and no – I think similarities of music can be quanitified (pandora effect) – good or not is a whole other story

          1. kirklove

            @ShanaC:disqus totally. “Grouping” is easy (genre, bpms, style) and totally helpful. It’s just not how I like to listen to music. Again, totally admit it’s a subjective thing. For me there is nothing better than finding a group of “folks” to follow or monitor then going from Muddy Waters to Bloc Party, to Gilberto Gil, to Shakey Graves, to Neil Young, to a SoundCloud artist, to some African music, to a Bandcamp page. That’s what excites me personally about music. You can’t get that from a genre or a “mood” category.

        2. Wavelengths

          Agreed.My favorite radio DJ’s selections were always different and yet overall his choices were as unique as handwriting. No algorithm.

    3. fredwilson

      i never listen to songza when its just me. i agree that its not killer for that. when its just me, i listen to turntable and exfm and soundcloud. i’m listening to turntable right nowbut when we have a full house, songza is great

  25. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Two new things I learned in this post – 1) Sonos and 2)Songza – Thanks Fred!! I have been wanting for awhile now to setup a wireless entertainment system in my home and this post offers a great start!!

  26. kirklove

    PS: Sonos is the shit. They have a dock, but just for iPhone. I use it so I can listen to SoundCloud, Turntable, and exfm. It’s great.You’re right though it would be way better if they had native Sonos apps.

    1. ShanaC

      nice exfm plug there.

  27. Brandon Marker

    I don’t care for music discovery, and I don’t know why I can’t get into it. I have used countless online options with no desire to keep going back for more than a month. Even Spotify’s user-created playlists don’t get me. I think this may be a control issue?

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Ditto. Don’t think is a control issue, certainly not for me, as happy for a DJ/presenter on BBC R6/3 (eg) to ‘control’ what is played. More a case of the quality of curation, I think…

  28. Gianpaolo D'Amico

    Hi Fred, thanks for the post, I also have the amazing Sonos system and then I can appreciate this, but…there is a but….I’m a little indie-rock guy (near 40 years for the truth…) from Europe and when I click on the Songza wesbite I see: “We are very sorry to say that due to licensing constraints we cannot allow access to Songza for listeners located outside of the United States and Canada.”That’s very bad……it was the same issue with Turntable….this is very frustrating and does not give me trust in the future of these kind of projects. C’mon we live in a open data universe, we can’t say it is good…On the same side I prefer http://www.stereomood.com project as well, no restictions, anywhere platform strategy (mobile, bla bla bla…), choose music in a discovering attitude based on cool tags. Cool and simple, the way music must be….no restrictions please…music is our lifebestGianpaolo

    1. fredwilson

      Turntable was global when it launched but it was shut down outside the US when the music rights holders requested that. The company has spent the past year negotiating global licenses (often country by country) and it will be back soon in some marketsIf stereomood gets popular expect the same fate for them

      1. Daniele Novaga

        Hi Fred! We are focused on discovery like ex.fm and this is my jam for example. Our main purpose is to promote only indipendent artists and labels.

        1. Gioia Pistola

          I love Stereomood!

        2. fredwilson

          cool. i will spend more time on it.

      2. jason wright

        This is so wrong.

    2. Francesca Cavallo

      I also love their new iPad app! I believe Stereomood is a really great service, I travel a lot and many times with Songza I had the same issue with copyright restrictions..

  29. Elia Freedman

    I have a music concierge service, too: my brother. He loves music, listens to tons of it, knows my general tastes, and sends tips and hints to me all the time. Best service I could ever ask for!

  30. Marco Govoni

    Great idea, “music by time”. But “music-by-mood” from stereomood.com for me is more intuitive: just one-click πŸ™‚

  31. laurie kalmanson

    urban daddy uses a similar q/a format for recommendations in response to your queries. what do you want to do: eat, go dancing? and then offering choices in responsei wind up listening to itunes radio when i don’t know where else to look

  32. daryn

    Interesting… Like you, I’ve discounted most of the radio-style services based on the first generation’s general suckage, so I hadn’t really given any of the newer ones a look. I’ll put Songza on the Sonos and change that this weekend.Hope they have a “kicking back with a cold one and enjoying the last weekend of summer” channel waiting for me this afternoon.

  33. lawrence coburn

    Yeah, I like Songza too. My only problem with them was the Facebook auto post of “Lawrence is listening to the get fired up mix in the shower” message or whatever that blasts out.

    1. fredwilson

      i turned that off

  34. Nick Grossman

    Totally agree – songza has been awesome, and I am in concierge mode a lot of the time. Even when I start out in on-demand mode (such as by choosing an album on Rdio), I often end up in concierge mode after that album ends and it defaults to playing me something else.

  35. Adrian Bye

    installed, thanks for the pointer. i use pandora through sonos, but i get tired of the repeated playlists.. i think pandora could be a lot better

  36. John Revay

    “Eclectic Workout Mixes”It showed Men’s Health – I wonder if it knows that Fred is a Male and it showed this stream, wondered what you if the GothamGal was signed on.

  37. Aviah Laor

    “We are very sorry to say that due to licensing constraints we cannot allow access to Songza for listeners located outside of the United States and Canada.Based on your IP address, we believe that you are located outside of the United States and Canada. Please accept our deepest apology for restricting your access to Songza; we share your disappointment and frustration…”. Off course.

  38. Eunice Apia

    I believe Slacker does that. You put in an artist and it will add music by similar artists. I hate having music chosen for me but sometimes you discover new music. I find myself skipping songs. You only get a number of times you can skip songs or you can pay for an upgrade where you can skip as many times as you like.I don’t know if they do it by mood…as much as by genre.

  39. laurie kalmanson

    heard the song and bought it: Indie While You Work room. Tycho: Dive β™«β™ͺ #turntablefm http://turntable.fm/indie_w

      1. laurie kalmanson

        buying now. thank you! also, deadmau5

          1. laurie kalmanson

            awesome. fun friday. take monday off.

          2. Laurent Boncenne

            Not a chance! It’s MBA monday =) how on earth could I miss that?! πŸ˜€

          3. laurie kalmanson

            i meant read it with a latte and your feet up of course

  40. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Lest we forget … Being a teenager in the UK in the late 70s, listening to the likes of John Peel late at night on BBC R1 and learning all about ‘proper’ music.http://www.youtube.com/watc

    1. aweissman

      John Peel ftw. He is the Paul Graham of music

  41. Anand Babu

    nice post. And per your point on the prevalence of “lean back”, I think Songza is a great example of innovation around the job to be done (relative to how Pandora approached it). my post on the topic and : http://tmblr.co/ZvCJCyPBn_1i

    1. aweissman

      nice post

  42. Wavelengths

    I was driving out of Texas and into New Mexico and found this station. Turns out the managing music magician is a DJ I used to listen to in Boulder, CO.Nothing like the unique human creativity at putting music together in a way that transcends each individual song.Somehow they just played Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, and Death Cab for Cutie.http://www.santafe.com/stre…Yes, I’d love to skip the ads.

  43. andyidsinga

    neither Songza nor StereoMood allow us to listen to music in their android apps without signing in …but they do let you listen on the web site without signing in.anyone know why this is the case?

    1. ShanaC

      rights related?

    2. Laurent Boncenne

      Give 8Tracks a try, it provides more or less the same functionality without requiring a signup (at least I don’t have to login/signup to listen to any mix from the various unofficial windows phone apps, so I guess their Official Android version shouldn’t either…)(I don’t work for them, just a very dedicated user :D)

      1. andyidsinga

        thanks – will check them out.

      2. andyidsinga

        okay – 8tracks.com most definitely passes the 10 minute test. stumbled upon some good house:http://8tracks.com/lukebox/…and Poltergeist girlfriend got to me with music and especially the description :)”It’s nightout in the replicant district; electronic, house, dubstep & garage including XXXY, Actress and Hot Chip. Lullabies to dream with electric sheeps.”http://8tracks.com/sr-mares…

        1. Laurent Boncenne

          The whole experience of 8tracks is very well thoughtout, for instance, half of this description was automatically filled by 8tracks itself, when you create a mix, it suggest a description which is usually something like this : “11 tracks with artists including X, Y and Z” with a link to a search for other mixes that includes tracks from said artists and of course the creator can edit this description adding something more…This is pretty awesome for discovering playlist of artists you might actually like! =)also something I recommend you try, is when you’re on your mix feed, you can filter by tag, but it’s also additive. So if you have the Workout tag filtered and you add another tag, it will automatically search for mixes with both tags! It’s pretty awesome. I think half of the team is from former googlers who built it for them while at google…

  44. Laurent Boncenne

    Can’t believe no one mentioned http://8tracks.com yet. Has possibly the best integration with soundcloud and lets you create & listen to user created mixes for free (the only limit being that you can only skip 2/3 songs per hour). And you don’t even need to sign up to listen to mixes both on the web and on their mobile apps (at least the unofficial windows phone ones).I seriously hope soundcloud would consider it as an acquisition possibility (cc @davidnoel ), it has been for me a perfect source of indie/mashup artists discovery on soundcloud (there’s a link to the artist’s soundcloud on each track).

    1. fredwilson

      i like 8tracks but i don’t like to listen by playlist

  45. skysurfer172

    Wow, Friday afternoon -> Office -> indie -> roots rock and within 30 seconds of visiting the site for the first time ever, Old Crow Medicine Show is playing and I have the perfect set list for a few more hours of productivity. Instant fan!!

  46. Andy Weyer

    Songza reminds me of the “Free Falling” scene from Jerry Maguire (http://www.youtube.com/watc…. Or the time I lost a huge deal, walked out to my car, and was looking to lose my sh!t to Rage Against the Machine, but could only find pop and commercials on the radio, so I just went Office Space on my steering wheel instead. In any event, cool service and rocking to Jimi at my desk now…

  47. Aaron Fyke

    Back in undergrad, my roommates and I realized long ago that it was far more satisfying to have someone play music for you, than to play it yourself. Case in point, when U2’s “Mysterious Ways” came on the radio, we’d get excited and turn it up, even though the Achtung Baby cd was sitting *right next to me*, and I could have listened whenever I wanted.So, we implemented a system with the home stereo, that instead of putting in a cd for something you wanted to hear, you’d put it in for the other person to hear, and then we’d swap with each song, allowing each person to get that “pleasant surprise”. This is also why I’m a big fan of “shuffle” mode. The sneaker-net version of what you’re talking about, I suppose.

    1. aweissman

      post college we had a Monday Night Music club when i was living in DC. First Monday of every month we go to someone’s house, order in pizza, Indian food whatever, and that person would spin records from their collection for 3 hours. Next month, someone elses house. So so so much fun.

  48. Arnon Nimrod

    Funny – TechCrunch is running a story just now about a service, Serendip.me, that curates a playlist for you from a list of people you follow, kind of like a “twitter for music”: http://m.techcrunch.com/201…Haven’t used it yet but it makes sense to me, assuming that like with Twitter you can find enough interesting people to follow.

  49. Geoff Judge

    Fred, so true. Luv Songza, “classic rock workout”, “rock & roll road trip”, “late night rock ” & 90s Alternative Rock some of my favs

  50. kenberger

    There are “oreo tells”, and there are “Fred’s vetting a potential investment” tells.:)

  51. Wavelengths

    What a great way to start the long weekend — all these suggestions for great music. Thnx for getting the party started! (Is Pink on Spotify or Rdio?)

  52. cavupls

    so right; it rocks. like 8 Tracks, only better.

  53. CJ

    Feature Friday never disappoints!

  54. fredwilson

    The streams and songs bore me.