Site Review: Pandora Radio

Is your iTunes or Windows Media Player playlist looking a bit too familiar?  Swing over to Pandora for a refreshing change of pace.

Pandora is a free Internet “radio” service that differs from your typical Internet radio services in that the playlist changes depending on your preferences.  I’ve been using Pandora for a few years now and simply cannot do without it.

Pandora operates rather simply on the front end.  Once you sign up for an account, you can either load a playlist based on a genre (like folk or post-punk), song, artist, or composer.  Pandora then creates a playlist based on features of that particular piece of data.  It does this by way of a rather complicated but really spiffy database called the Music Genome Project.

How the project works is fascinating by itself:  musicians and technicians analyze pieces of music – over 10,000 so far – and break them up into “genes”, such as tempo, instrumentation, vocalization, lyrics and so on.  When you enter a song into Pandora, it then searches the database to find songs that have similar genes.  For example, I put in Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” into Pandora.  First another Dylan song came up: “She Belongs to Me”.  But then John Lennon’s “Tight As” popped up.  Pandora even noted that it picked this song based on basic rock structures, acoustic, country and blues influences, and so on.

This by itself is darn cool, and is a great way to find new artists and songs that you may like.  And if you don’t like it, just give it a “thumbs down” and Pandora will adjust itself.  If you like something, give it a thumbs up and it will play more like that particular song’s genes.  Plus you can pull up information on the artist and album, find and listen to other tracks on that particular album, and of course buy music from iTunes or Amazon.

And did I mention that it’s free?  There are side banner ads but no annoying pop-ups and no commercial breaks in the music.  That alone separates it from 99% of the other Internet radio stations out there.

All said, Pandora is worth may more than free.  Give it a shot and you will be hooked.

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Posted on July 26, 2009, in Site Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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