Google has a mixed record on acquisitions. Big ones, like Android, YouTube, DoubleClick and Keyhole (which became Google Earth) became cornerstones of the company. Some smaller buys, however, disintegrated — the products were absorbed or lost inside Google, and the founders rushed for the exit.
Here’s one Google would like to tout: Songza, the curated playlist service acquired in July of last year. On Wednesday, Songza will inform its subscribers — around 5.5 million at the time of the acquisition — that Songza is no more. Its website and app are porting over to Google Play Music at the end of January, the culmination of a gradual integration of the streaming service’s offerings into Google’s.
But for Songza’s four founders, who are all at Google, this is good news — a chance to focus on one product, not two. They said they’re not hung up on losing their baby.
“You fall in love with the problem you’re solving; you don’t fall in love with your solution to it,” claimed Elias Roman, Songza’s CEO and now Google product manager. “A name change, in the grand scheme of things, is very, very easy to get comfortable with given the progress on solving that problem.”
That problem is delivering music based on listeners’ activities and moods — what Songza calls “IRL soundtracking,” found in its Concierge feature. Google brought Concierge into Play Music four months after the acquisition, and the feature is now in 13 countries. Roman and his cohorts recently announced they would be bringing this approach to podcasting within Play. (The consumer version of this is coming “soon,” Roman assured me.)
For Google, the problem is assembling a comprehensive media strategy to compete with rivals, like Netflix and Spotify and, of course, Apple.
Thus far, Google’s approach has been schizophrenic. The Songza integration is a step in a uniform direction. It’s still multifarious: There’s YouTube, YouTube Music and YouTube Red, its new subscription service. Then there’s the Play store, Play Music’s subscription service, a Play Music subscription family plan and a Pandora-like free Play service. Subscribe to either Red or Play, and you get the other for free. Got that?
Along with the Songza news, Google is also announcing that its free Play tier, launched in June, is coming to Canada. Songza is big there, apparently.
The service caters to a niche, devoted audience, and its team is working on a similar offering inside Google, which may explain their easy assimilation into the Plex. Time will tell if its subscribers will revolt against the change, but Google seems to be taking the transition with care.
“Google was always kindred” to Songza’s offering, said co-founder Elliott Breece. “Moving forward, we want to bring more and more of that to Play Music.”
Here’s the (very twee) letter he and his fellow founders sent out to their subscribers on Wednesday:
In a nutshell, we built Songza to make life better by playing you music tailored to every moment of every day.
In July 2014, Songza was acquired by Google (#ConsciousCoupling), and in them we found a company who shares our excitement for IRL soundtracking. Over the past year and a half, we’ve worked hard to bring all of the features that you love from Songza to Google Play Music, including the Concierge and our massive library of hand-curated playlists — from Walking On Sunshine to Hillbilly Bodybuilding, no moment shall go un-soundtracked.
Thanks to Google Play Music (and our kick-ass team, which continues to grow faster than a Twista verse), we’ve been able to bring what you love about Songza to a new audience of music fans in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Ireland, Brazil, Japan, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Austria (*wipes brow*) — with even more countries coming soon.
Thank you SO much for being a part of the Songza community over all of these years. We’re really proud of the work that we’ve done on Google Play Music and we truly hope you’ll join us there.
Hugs and headphones,
Elias, Elliott, Eric, Peter and the whole Songza team
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.