Pandora Internet Radio

Internet radiois a broad media encompassing many variations from streaming broadcasts of actual radio stations to stations that are strictly from that web-site. One very popular and unique internet radio service is Pandora Radio. Notice that I said “service”, not “station”. This is because not only does Pandora Radio take the user’s input to make a custom “station”, but the user also has the option to have up to 100 custom “stations”.

Pandora started in 2000 under the name The Music Genome Project.(1) The two entities now exist separately, but Pandora still uses The Music Genome Project to operate. The MGP is an extensive and labor intensive project that uses very highly trained analysts to listen to all kinds of music from all different periods and genres. Analysis of one song can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes per song.(2) So what are the analysts listening for?

The analysts are listening for over 400 different attributes that one song possesses. Some of these attributes include but are certainly not limited to rhythm, harmony, lyrics, and instrumentation. Pandora’s analysts have to have degrees in music theory, composition, or performance. They are also extensively trained by Pandora upon being hired and all work and analysis is done on site rather than sending work and results back and forth from employees to employer via the Internet, and all analysis relies on the human ear, not computer programs. (3)

What this means for the user is an interactive internet radio experience. All the user has to do is input a favorite song or artist and Pandora comes back with results not just from the information the user gave, but also from artists or songs that have some of the same common qualities and attributes. The more information the user inputs into Pandora, the narrower the output that Pandora gives back to the user. If there is a song the user loves, the he or she just clicks the “thumbs up” icon and Pandora logs that he or she likes it. By the same token, if a song is suggested that the user does not like, he or she simply clicks the “thumbs down” icon and Pandora will never play that particular song ever again for the user. Pandora offers other services as well, like the option for the user to buy the music he or she is listening to. Songs and albums can be purchased through websites like the iTunes store or Amazon MP3. Physical CD’s can also be purchased through Amazon.com.(4)

Access to Pandora is possible through many avenues. One is through stand alone players like Sonos products and Slim devices.(4) Pandora is also available on BlackBerry phones, Android phones, WebOS (used by PalmPre), and Windows mobile devices.(4) Pandora, up until June 18, 2008, was even used by another internet radio station, MSN Radio.(4)

(1) http://www.pandora.com/corporate/
(2) http://www.pandora.com/corporate/
(3) http://www.pandora.com/corporate/mgp
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora_radio