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Pandora’s (Music) Box

P {margin:0px;padding:0px;} body {font-size:10pt;font-family:Tahoma;} My brother Jim clued me in to the Pandora site ( — a site that bills itself as a site to help you discover music.  The metaphor for the site is a radio station, and the novelty-feature is that you get to create your own radio stations.  Put in an artist or song and it will build a play list for you with songs the site believes are similar. 
I asked Arlene to help me test it, and she asked me to put in the artist Jackie Greene.  So how did it work?  Well, Jackie Greene is a tough one because his musical style has evolved quite a bit over the last 3-4 years.  The description of Jackie Greene sounded like it reflected his music from 3 albums ago much better than his latest work.  Similarly, the songs selected did seem to share some attributes with the older Jackie Greene CDs, so the site delivered in that respect, at least. 
The features I especially like are that you can create multiple "radio stations" and then create a "Quick Mix" that uses the attributes of any or all of those stations to inform the mix.  I also like that you can tag each song as a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to help Pandora’s algorithm do a better job finding songs you like. 
The "intelligence" behind the site is apparently a taxonomy of some 400+ dimensions on which songs can be classified (this tidbit from brother Jim who heard a guy from Pandora speak at MIT recently).   The work of classifying songs into this taxonomy is carried out under the banner of the Music Genome Project.  Ambitious, and certainly a lot of work. 
I do wish there was a way to see the list of songs in a neat, easy format (e.g., a list perhaps?) instead of waiting for the next song or clicking next to page through songs one at a time.  Perhaps there is a way to do this, but I didn’t see it.  Also, a link to Amazon, Rhapsody, and iTunes, etc. would be a nice add (again, if it’s there, I didn’t see it).  Despite a couple minor issues like the ones I’ve mentioned, the site did show me some artists I wasn’t familiar with, as well as some works by known artists I wasn’t aware of — so by in large, the site delivered on it’s promise.  Pretty cool! 

One response

  1. Jim

    Actually, Pandora does link you to Amazon and iTunes.  Just click on the song you like and it will take you to the Amazon page where you can buy the CD or to iTunes, where you can legally download the song, if it’s available in those places.  Sadly, not everything is.

    November 27, 2006 at 4:15 am