Sunday, September 03, 2006
Pandora.com: a streaming expulsion of music parsed & divined for me - and for you
For background I found a smartly explanatory article by Marc D. Allan at Nuvo.com called Your Own Private Radio Station / Pandora.com Takes New Approach:
An analyst from pandora.com listens intently as he works at pairing listener with artist.
Everyone who loves music should go to pandora.com immediately — after reading this, of course — where you will experience the joy of creating your own private radio station.
You’ll thank me for this later, much like I thanked Tim Westergren, who founded the site.
“I spend most of my time now corresponding with people who are using the service,” Westergren said. “I have to tell you, the emotion of people is wild. People want and need music in their lives, but they forget how much they want and need it until they get it back again. And there’s such a sense of gratitude, which is just amazing. People write love letters.”
As well they should. On Pandora, you start with a group — let’s say the Beatles — or a song — “Ticket to Ride,” for example. Pandora will create a station for you. It’ll start with a Beatles song, then continue on with similar-sounding tunes. You can tell the computer what you like (which keeps similar songs coming) and what you don’t (you can stop bad songs immediately). You can add more bands or songs, too. Or you can just let it play.
The site is advertiser-supported, and it’s free.
As of this writing, I’ve been on an eight-day XTC thread that has gone in magnificent directions, including one especially memorable run of “Adult Books” (X), “Rocket from a Bottle” (XTC), “Hardcore UFOs” (Guided By Voices) and “Star Sign” (Teenage Fanclub). There have been several new discoveries — most notably the jaunty “Out Out Damn Spot” by Anthony Rapp (“If you wanna know the truth about my life / it’s a mess, it’s a mess, it’s a mess, it’s a mess”) and maybe the greatest song title ever, “Outbreak of Vitas Gerulatis” by a British group called Half Man Half Biscuit. I’d never heard of Patty Hurst Shifter, Aspera Ad Astra, The Waxwings, De Novo Dahl and Ellie Pop, but I have now. And I’m glad.
So far, Pandora employees have catalogued nearly 400,000 songs based on an array of different characteristics such as major-key tonality, melodic songwriting and rhythmic syncopation. They call what they’re doing “the musical genome project” because it’s the musical equivalent of what scientists have done with human genes.
Westergren wouldn’t divulge how many users are on Pandora, but he said 8.5 million stations have been created in three months. Each user can start up to 100 stations.
“Music makes your life better,” said Westergren, a former musician whose acoustic-rock band Yellowwood Junction has just been added to the Pandora catalog. “I think it makes the world better. It’s goodness. And people like to bask in that.”