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LeWeb 2012: Senzari Smart Radio Comes To UK

A social music service that feeds on Facebook has been launched in the UK

On by Max Smolaks 0

Senzari, a free Internet radio service that establishes users’ musical preferences through their Facebook account, launched in the UK on Tuesday.

Senzari claims its unique recommendation engine “knows what people want to listen to”, by analysing their likes, chat logs and musical tastes of their friends. It can even attempt to establish users’ moods based on their general behaviour on the social network.

The company is a pure American start-up, headquartered in Miami. It has already raised $4 million in venture capital funding, making it feel right at home at the first LeWeb event in London. The service has been available in the US, Brazil and Spain since early May.

In the future, Senzari could compete with well-established music services like Spotify, Last.fm and Pandora.

Win-win

A lot of Internet radio projects claim to be “smart”. And yet, when it comes to recommendations, they are mostly based on genres and similar artists. Senzari is a lot more personal, according to its makers. After connecting to a user’s Facebook account, it uses clever algorithms to analyse their likes and conversations, whilst looking for keywords and attempting to figure out their mood.

The platform integrates Facebook chat, which means a user’s playlist can change “on the fly”, depending on the type of interaction. And if a user skips a certain song several times, it will no longer appear in their playlist.

Among the more exotic features is “Around Me”. It combines check-in data from Facebook to suggest what music people at a particular location are listening to. Imagine hunting for a perfect coffee shop full of people who like jazz, or a clothing store frequented by techno enthusiasts, and you get a sense of what Senzari is capable of.

The project was founded by serial entrepreneur Bill Hajjar and currently employs around 20 people based in San-Francisco and Miami. The Senzari catalogue already includes ten million songs.

“We are launching Senzari in the UK and LeWeb seemed like a perfect place to do that,” Hajjar told TechWeekEurope. “We have previously attended the Paris event as a start-up. The London event is smaller, but it’s a good beginning.”

“We are a technology company, not just a music service. At the back end, all of the technology, the recommendation engine, the way we do the algorithms, everything is proprietary. We are trying to create a completely new user experience,” he added.

Like many other Internet radio services, Senzari will be financed through advertising. However, knowing so much about its users should allow it to target ads with surgical precision, driving the number of commercial messages users have to endure down and their relevance up.

Since Tuesday, Senzari is available to UK users through its website. It was designed with touchscreens in mind, and TechWeekEurope was told smartphone and tablet applications are coming in the near future.

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Max Smolaks

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