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The great irony of Silicon Valley's curated-music craze

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The music industry has always chased trends, and as tech companies have started getting into the game, they’ve not only picked up the habit but taken it to an unimaginably expensive level—one that makes the most coke-fueled excesses of the Fleetwood Mac era look miserly in comparison. And right now, the market is going bananas for curation: After years of investing in algorithms that can figure out that someone who likes the Beatles would probably also be interested in Creedence Clearwater Revival, which has helped the online radio behemoth Pandora claim 250 million users, the tide has turned. “Curation” is now the buzzword du jour.

Yesterday, word got out that Google will be buying the playlist site Songza for a “substantially higher” amount than the $15 million it was previously rumored to have offered, according to a Billboard article. Songza offers users, in its own words, “Music Curated by Music Experts”—that is, playlists broken down not only by genre but by mood or compatibility with different activities, some of them as specific as “Lounging in a Cool Hotel” or “Hanging Out in the Man Cave.” The tech giant has plans to fold Songza and its team of 50 or so curators into the unwieldily named Google Play Music All Access, a subscription-based streaming platform it launched to compete against Spotify that hasn’t offered very serious competition so far.

Apple also recently acquired a curation service: the Beats Music platform, whose place in the $3 billion acquisition has been massively overshadowed by Beats’ much larger and more profitable hardware division. Now that Apple and Google have both bought their own curation services, other companies will most likely be scrambling to get their own. READ FULL STORY

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