Mood-based music streaming service Songza has raised a $4.7 million funding round, their second since they closed $2 million in 2011. Songza did not name a lead for the round, the investors for which include Amazon, William Morris Endeavor, Lerer Ventures, Deep Fork Capital, Metamorphic Ventures, Troy Carter, Scooter Braun, Gary Vaynerchuk, Geoff Judge, and Nicole Junkermann.
With this latest round, Songza will be scaling its sales team and developing its native advertising, having recently hired a dedicated brand manager. Technically it is the company’s Series D, as the corporation that owns Songza formerly owned AmieStreet.com and did two rounds of funding for that service, but it is the second round of financing for Songza, CEO Elias Roman said.
This summer Songza has been at work developing advertisements for Taco Bell, Samsung, Nissan, and Vitaminwater, among others, with the intention of making ads not just palatable but a desirable and natural part of the user experience. This takes the form of sponsored playlists of about 50-60 songs, paired with banner advertisements and a 15-second video at the start.
Songza gives advertisers’ playlists a spot as one of their six mood selection options; on a Sunday morning, “Getting Hyped With Taco Bell” sits beside “Drinking Gourmet Coffee” and “Falling Back Asleep.”
Roman said the goal is to create advertisements that are not just native to the platform, but also native to the user’s experience. Content-oriented advertising like promoted tweets accomplish the first but not the latter, he said, while sponsored BuzzFeed lists tend do do both.
Traditional advertisements are asking for a customer’s phone number before they’ve had a good conversation, figuratively speaking, Roman said. What Songza is aiming to do is create that conversation through a good music experience and then ask for the phone number.
Roman said that the Taco Bell and Samsung campaigns that Songza is currently running have received a ratio of positive and negative feedback that is actually better than the app’s other, organic playlists.
Earlier this month, Songza introduced Club Songza, a paid, ad-free experience that costs $.99 per week and gives users access to additional content. Moving forward, Roman hinted that Songza could be looking to expand outside of music.
“One of the things we’re hinting at is that we can curate outside of music. What brands and products make sense to surround yourself with? … You’re driving to work and what you need is the news in 15 minutes or less to be smarter about what happened in the last day. That’s a podcast. An ABC News clip. Just like we do with music, it’s surfacing the right content when you need it.”