June 21, 2007
Within a one-week period, two different sources described Pandora to me. Jonathan Roe, a former co-worker, current friend, and musician who is actively playing with 3 or 4 different bands at any given time mentioned it over lunch. Then, I heard an interview with the founder of the site on an NPR podcast (the real focus of the piece was how royalties legislation is changing such that the site might wind up not being viable).
The concept is hinted at by the site’s tagline that the tool is “based on the Music Genome Project.” Pandora has an engine that is trying to catalogue all recorded music based on the “DNA” of the music — the use of vocal harmony, the use of acoustic instrumentation, specific instruments, and dozens of other attributes. So, you enter an artist or set of artists who you like, and Pandora dynamically builds a radio station that has other artists you might like. I started with John Prine, Todd Snider, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, and Jerry Jeff Walker. The site plays songs by those guys, of course. But, it does more.
It also played songs by other artists. For each song, you have the option to give it a thumbs-up (I like it) or a thumbs-down (I don’t really like it). It played some music by Kris Kristofferson (thumbs up), Gram Parsons (thumbs up), Son Volt (thumbs up), Johnny Cash (thumbs up), Woody Guthrie (thumbs up), George Strait (thumbs down — based on the song played), and others. The site then takes that additional data and tunes your preferences.
You can register for the site for free and then share your radio station with others.
And, the interface is very nice.
I’ve added a link to it in my “Links” section at right.