The Birth of Songza, Apple’s No. 1 App
t’s not that good a story,” the man in the driver seat tells me as we cross the Triborough Bridge after an evening of miniature golf on Randall’s Island. “It’s not as good as other entrepreneurs who started the ultimate lemonade stand when they were six and then took apart their parents’ tractor and rebuilt it from scratch. It’s not that kind of story.”
My golfing partner was Peter Asbill, the chief operating officer and cofounder of Songza. A streaming music site wrestling control of music curation away from the coders who write algorithms, and instead building expertly curated playlists for pretty much any occasion. There’s Code Your Face Off (music for writing computer code), Pole Dancing Rock (for Polish people), and Getting Stoned at the Park (for throwing rocks on the playground) amongst the thousands of lists made by actual human beings.
Asbill and I met in early May to discuss Songza over 18 holes of fierce miniature golf, one of his favorite ways to unwind. (Skeet shooting is another.) At the time of our mini-golf-fueled conversation, he said Songza was barely on any of his competitors’ radar. But just this Monday, that all changed, when he says his team learned it had gone to No. 1 on Apple’s iPad apps list, and No. 2 for the iPhone. The following day, BTIG Research wrote an article about why Pandora should be concerned about Songza.