February 5, 2008
Well, I just found something new. What would you say if you could have a completely customized radio station, that played only the music you selected and other music similar to that? What if that station, unlike something like iTunes, still kept you up to date with new releases and introduced you to new artists that are your kind of music?
Well, it sounds like a pipe dream to most. Yet I just found a site last night that fits all those requirements. Pandora is a free internet radio station that is customized to a listener. Tell them you like an artist, and they’ll play music from that artist and those like him/her. Add a few artists together, and you can have a station that plays your favorite styles of music, with a self-correcting feature that allows you to rate music you like and don’t like to refine your selections.
It’s powered by a group called the Music Genome Project, musicians who rate music based on a wide number of factors about the type, style, vocals, instruments, beat, etc present in the tune. From this and some software algorithms, they are able to link artists together based on those factors and help listeners find new artists.
For most radio listeners, this isn’t a big issue. If you’re a “Top 40″ type, you have no trouble finding music like what you already listen to, because it’s blared out on every third FM station, in the mall, in movies, and everywhere else. For someone with more eclectic tastes like me, though, it’s a lot more difficult. I’ve tried to look through amazon.com’s recommendations, but they don’t give you the opportunity to really evaluate an artist by listening to them for a while. Pandora allows me to do that.
For example, I’m a big fan of the sort of folk/blues genre. An artist that I’ve listened to quite a bit over the last few years, simply after hearing one of his songs on an acoustic compilation, is Chris Whitley. I own a few of his albums, but had no way to really found other music like his, until now. Today at work I put his name into Pandora, and over a couple of hours, had found a few potential artists and songs to pick up on iTunes.
I have a feeling that over the next few weeks, I’m going to become a lot more familiar with the workings of Pandora. After all, if a radio station where I’m the general manager fails to satisfy me, I have nobody to blame but me!
Hat Tip: Atlas Blogged
And for those of you who haven’t heard of Chris Whitley, here is the song that I first heard that got me listening to him:
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