open the box

Pandora.com is an  incredible site that helps you discover new music. You tell it
the title of a song or name of an artist, and it will create a station
for you, starting from that selection. Pandora then plays a song from a similar artist that it thinks you’ll like, as it builds a custom net.radio station for you. The Long Tail Blog says,

"[T]hey
determine similarity not by what other people listen to but what their
small army of musicologists identify as related traits in the music
itself. You’ll get delightful stuff you never would have thought of."

I started with Soul coughing, discovered a band called
Gerling, heard an old TMBG song I’d somehow managed to never hear
over the years, and eventually heard a new band called The One AM Radio (which I LOVE, and never would have found on my own, which is the whole point of Pandora.) If you really like a band, there are links to Amazon or iTunes so you can buy the album, or explore more of their stuff on your own.

Pandora
gives you ten hours of free listening to try it out, and offers a year of service for thirty-six bucks. If pandora can stay honest, and keep
the music industry’s pay-for-play agenda out of the way, it could be an
amazing service.

(Thanks, Carsten!)

40 thoughts on “open the box”

  1. I have trouble seeing how this would actually work. My tastes include Glenn Miller, Sinatra, The Monkees, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Joel Perri, Johnny Cash, The Muppets, R. Carlos Nakai, King Missle, John Valby, Shania Twain, Herb Alpert, Roger Whittaker, King Curtis, Joe Jackson, and many more. Pandora didn’t even know some of these, and I cannot see how it could possibly relate some of the others (except through my tastes). It seems to me that the result would be, in a way, rather monochromatic. I gave it a couple different starting points and needed to go through four or five songs before even hitting one that was marginally acceptable — I cannot imagine how much more training it would take to teach it just one type of music that *I* like. I suspect that I’ll stick with using WinAmp’s radio to check out unusual stations to find new music because it doesn’t require my constant attention to train — only to look up and note the name of a band I like when their song plays. But, for people with enough time to teach (and narrow enough interests to be happy with the probable results) it sounds ‘neat.’
    Of course, I’m probably completely off base and mistaken (I usually am) but I say what I feel… [smile] Also, pointers to things like this are always welcome, that’s what makes the net (and blogs like yours) so cool!

  2. I finally created a typepad account because I really really really wanted to comment on this post.
    Guess what?
    If you use http://launch.yahoo.com
    ‘s radio service, you can create your own radio station, for free…
    … or really, in exchange for listening to 30 second Y! ads every 30 mins or something. And you can update for a minimal fee if you want unlimited skips (for songs you don’t like) and no ads!
    The reason I bring this up is because you can rate artists, songs etc and that determines how often that song plays. Also, your radio station plays artists or songs that are similar to your interests.
    So for nurbles, this would be amazing, because you could totally list all those artists as your favorites (5 stars or 100%).
    Last but not least, I just wanted to mention that the Y! plus update thing also has a mood player. Choose your mood (angry, sad, etc) and it’ll play songs that propagate that type of feeling.
    and Wil, I love reading your blog! Recently discovered it and can’t wait to see some of your new stuff :)

  3. Oh boy, this is fabulous. I read about this a couple of days ago but kinda forget about it. Thanks for reminding me!
    *listening to “Project Pitchfork” – loving it*

  4. I am listening to XTC right at the moment. I tried “New Orleans Is Sinking” by “The Tragically Hip” but it couldn’t find it.
    However, I seem to have a ton of songs just by searching for XTC

  5. Pandora.Com

    Wow! You will love Pandora.com. Just select a song or a band/performer and… well, let The Music Genome Project explain: On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most…

  6. I use LastFM.com. It’s still in it’s beta stages, but the radio is a little different. The program uploads the titles of everything you play, then prepares neighbors and recommendations for you. You can listen to anyone’s private station, (songs they play) or choose different genres. I’ve discovered all types of new music this way. It’s free too, unless you choose to donate.

  7. Thank you from a gal who is just starting to get back into music after several years of listening to nothing but my pre-schooler’s happy, happy, joy, joy music (OK, that’s not entirely fair – he really likes the stuff of mine I’ll let him listen to, but MOST of my stuff isn’t kosher for little ears).
    Pandora is a great tool for those who want to explore new options. I particularly like that it isn’t corporate driven. Anyone can submit their music for inclusion, it’s not just some record company’s playlist. It also finds music across genres, since it breaks music down by elements rather than by such tired and limiting labels such as “Rock”, “Country” or “Folk”. What fun!
    Oh, and ain’t the weather great in So-Cal today?!

  8. Thank you from a gal who is just starting to get back into music after several years of listening to nothing but my pre-schooler’s happy, happy, joy, joy music (OK, that’s not entirely fair – he really likes the stuff of mine I’ll let him listen to, but MOST of my stuff isn’t kosher for little ears).
    Pandora is a great tool for those who want to explore new options. I particularly like that it isn’t corporate driven. Anyone can submit their music for inclusion, it’s not just some record company’s playlist. It also finds music across genres, since it breaks music down by elements rather than by such tired and limiting labels such as “Rock”, “Country” or “Folk”. What fun!
    Oh, and ain’t the weather great in So-Cal today?!

  9. Thank you from a gal who is just starting to get back into music after several years of listening to nothing but my pre-schooler’s happy, happy, joy, joy music (OK, that’s not entirely fair – he really likes the stuff of mine I’ll let him listen to, but MOST of my stuff isn’t kosher for little ears).
    Pandora is a great tool for those who want to explore new options. I particularly like that it isn’t corporate driven. Anyone can submit their music for inclusion, it’s not just some record company’s playlist. It also finds music across genres, since it breaks music down by elements rather than by such tired and limiting labels such as “Rock”, “Country” or “Folk”. What fun!
    Oh, and ain’t the weather great in So-Cal today?!

  10. I’m happy enough to listen to my standard radio for now, but:
    Wow wil, i was blown away by your musical taste!
    my brother had to order the (soul coughing) ruby vroom album from overseas, and we’ve been in love with that band ever since!
    and Gerling is one of our local bands, so i’m a pretty big fan of theirs as well.
    Gotta go find some of that music now! :o)

  11. Pandora.com

    Ok, words can not express how frickin cool this site is. If you enjoy American/European music you need to check this out! I may even have to shell out the $36
    Major hat tip to Wil

  12. Thanks to a friend I found out about Pandora a few weeks ago and I love it. I have found some interesting stuff to listen to and the program always works.
    I used to use Yahoo Music but lately I have had major troubles with the player and other such technical errors. Pandora has been my refuge!
    w00t!

  13. Thanks for the link!
    I was feeling a little stale in the music department…now i have a whole slew of new stuff to listen too!
    How’s the new book coming?

  14. If Pandora paid you for that mention, they just got their money’s worth. I’ve already signed up this afternoon, as have 2 of my friends, and a couple others are thinking about it.

  15. Gandalfe: I have never, and I will never, post a link because someone is paying me.
    If I have a relationship with the linkee, I will always make it very clear, whatever it may be.

  16. Cool tip Wil, Thanks. Seems to work pretty good, although sometimes I like an artist, but not necessarily thinks LIKE that artist… Then again, I’m a recovering independant record store employee, so I hate almost everything…
    Example, Stereolab. Love the band, but didn’t like anything that was pulled up by pandora… I’ll keep trying though…

  17. Hrmmm…I started with Peter Gabriel. It played Sledgehammer, then I Have The Touch, and then “If I Could Walk On Water” by Eddie Money.
    Hrmmm…

  18. Yay! I am so happy! I have a very widley varied musical palate myself (I’m a Greatful Dead/Monkees/Green Day fan – go figure), so I figure I can just try referencing different bands and see what I get. Started with Green Day -saw them with the hubby at Home Depot Center in Carson last weekend, so I have Green Day on the brain right now — and so far I am really enjoying the music. Thanx for posting this link – I love it!

  19. I have to put in another plug for last.fm… it’s got its issues sometimes (occasional downtime/funky bugs), but they’re pretty awesomely geek-friendly. They’ve got their data available under CC license, their player (and I think their plugins) are open-source, and they provide more web services than you can shake a stick at.
    Their radio could stand to have a bit more variety, but it’s still been pretty good at letting me hear songs from all those bands that I’ve been meaning to check out for so long that I’d forgotten I was planning on checking them out. ;)

  20. Breakfast: 10/12/2005

    Try one of these specials with your breakfast: The Blog Interviews: Submit your questions for phin from phin’s blog and Heidi from Euphoric Reality. Info Theory is tracking the Miers endorsements. Hooah Wife is rapidly approaching 1 year blogiversary. Wil

  21. Good luck with getting your database back together. I made the transition to MT 3.2 – and it’s fine so far – and as long as I use my old templates. I haven’t gotten the tweaks down to convert to their templates yet. But it is fun working on it all.

  22. Wow, this is great!!
    Seriously, I made a typekey account just so I could post this.
    I typed in “Infected Mushroom” and every song they’ve found (at least 10 so far) has been GREAT, similar to and distinct from it. And their “why did we pick this song” tool really appeals to the nerd in me. :D
    This will definitely lead to MANY new downloads/purchases. And they’re all groups I never would have heard of otherwise.

  23. Worked well for me!
    Started with U2 (o! how i love bono)
    got the Mooney Suzuki
    Evan Olsen
    the Delays
    hadn’t heard of any of them- but I liked all their songs.
    Plus, I dug the reasons why they played them- apparently I like: basic rock structure, mild syncopation, a subtle use of vocal harmony, major key tonality, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation and a smooth male lead vocalist.
    All those big words are turning me on.

  24. Interesting, but as some other commenter said, it works best if you don’t have a varied musical taste. The system just doesn’t know what to do with you if you like both hard rock and Perry Como.

  25. hey wil! this post might seem a little random being that i just heard about your blog. just wanted to say that i recently saw “Stand By Me” for the first time and was incredibly moved by your performance. It was the first time that i cried while watching a movie. Glad to see that you’re doing well. Good luck with your poker game.

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