Google (GOOG) bought Songza for $35 million yesterday. In terms of dollar value and scope it’s an afterthought move. Google, Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and, yes, Yahoo (YHOO) are all openly interested in getting to know users as well as possible. Any teenager knows that nothing says more about you than your choice in music. The surprise isn’t that Google paid $35 million for a “music curation firm” but that Songza didn’t get more.
To the same point, it’s long past time for internet users to ask if they aren’t giving themselves away too easily. Three days ago we all pretended to be outraged after Facebook admitted to manipulating user’s emotions via their news feeds. Songza does nothing but seek to get into your heart and know you the way only a possessive ex-lover could. Music is art and art is nothing but emotion. That’s the whole point. Running headlines to make me think is rookie manipulation. If you want to get in my mind and wallet in a way not even I fully understand, show pictures of my daughter and throw on a John Mayer album.
Facebook is a bunch of headline writers analyzing data. Songza and now Google are Lloyd Dobler holding a boombox over his head. A stranger can make me think but making me a good mixed tape… sorry… “curating my music” is intimate. It’s personal. If Google was an ex-girlfriend offering to DJ my life I’d get a restraining order. It knows *everything* about me and is constantly trying to know more. Google, Apple (AAPL), Amazon and Facebook are all Catfishing/ Single White Female / nightmare of privacy violations.
There’s a trade being made here. Billions are being spent getting to know you and what you’re getting in return is a playlist and some stories personally recommended for you. That’s fine, but what happens when you don’t have any more secrets to give? Thankfully Songza probably knows some good emo songs to play for when you’re feeling super violated because that’s all you’re going to get.