My earliest memories about listening to music involve my favorite local radio stations and disc jockeys. Each DJ had their own style that they showed with the songs they selected to play on air. I remember creating my own mix tapes in high school and college, which were the first way one could create their own playlists like the radio DJs. It is now very easy to create your own playlists and several music apps like Spotify are oriented around playlists. Songza is an app for Android and iPhone smartphones that provides access to thousands of playlists of free streaming music organized in a variety of different ways.
Looking for a good playlist to listen to while you are working out? Startup Songza on your Android or iPhone smartphone, tap Discover, Activities, Cardio Workout to see a list of about a couple dozen different playlists. Each playlist has a brief description listing some of the featured artists, along with how many songs are in the list. I wish Songza would provide a list of the songs in the playlist, but I guess not knowing lends to the discovery process.
The top level playlist categories are genres, activities, moods, decades, culture, and record-store clerk. I think most of the categories are fairly obvious about what type of playlists they contain, but some examples of what you see in culture are today’s hits, holidays, and “best of” lists. Examples of record-store clerk include artists’ record collections, Beatlemania, and country music that ain’t slick.
After you select a playlist tap Play to start playing the songs. The only playback controls available are play/pause and forward, and you can vote a track up or down. At the top of the playback screen are buttons to share the playlist you are listening to on Facebook, Twitter, or via e-mail, and a button to Save a playlist to your own categories for your favorite playlists.
Unlike some free music apps like Pandora, all of the song playback in Songza is free of ads, although the Android app does display ads at the bottom of the screen. When you sign up to Songza you can use your Facebook credentials, which hooks it up with your Facebook account for sharing playlists.
If you are using a PC you can also access Songza.com to play music, and I found that the songs I listen to on the web site are shared on Facebook, though it looks like the Android app does not have this ability. You can also create your own playlists on the website and contribute them to be listened to be others, but oddly playlist creators or not able to listen to their own playlists.
The smartphone apps only stream music and therefore an Internet connection is needed to use the app. Users who have mobile data accounts with capped bandwidths need to be aware of the impact Songza will have on their download limit. Unfortunately, Songza does not have a setting to restrict playback to WiFi networks. The Songza app is free for Android and the iPhone and available now in the Android Market and iTunes App Store.