Pandora: Your personal DJ

Originally I stumbled across Pandora since it was allegedly a great example of a rich internet application (RIA) using Laszlo Systems application building tools (Laszlo’s RIA page here).

Admittedly it *is* a cool example of an RIA. But man…it is SO much more than that!

Pandora is an application that leverages the Music Genome Project started in 2000 by a group of musicians and music loving technicians who, “…carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists – ranging from popular to obscure – and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.

“Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records – it’s about what each individual song sounds like.”

Why would you be mesmerized by Pandora like I was?

I was instantly taken with Pandora (and am listening to it as I write this post) since it thematically delivers music that is analogous to my selected artist “station” and the genre in which the music falls. It’s strangely haunting and serendipitously surprising in the way it presents tunes, and is quite compelling in ways music hasn’t been for me previously.

So enamored was I that fired off an email immediately to Pandora…and the founder responded to me last night. My query was surrounding being able to buy multiple tracks vs. one at a time (which causes the listening experience to be interrupted). They’re working on it.

Why would I want to buy multiple tracks (or a stream of them)? I want this experience to go with me. I rarely sit at my computer and listen to tunes…since when I’m here I’m concentrating on work, reading or traversing the ‘net as I think and connect thoughts — and music would be disruptive to all three. That’s why I love my iPod, building my own playlists and listening to podcasts. This Pandora listening experience is so fantastic that I want have *all* my music listening to be just like it, which I can’t really re-create with my own iTunes playlists since I’m the DJ, am creating them and thus know which songs have been selected. The attributes or “genes” of the music Pandora provides is key to matching songs in a station…but to me the serendipity factor of music played by Pandora is the essence of what they’re delivering.

Today at the office I showed a couple of people Pandora. One very technical guy I showed said, “Cool! I’d use Audio Hijaack Pro to capture the stream.” Oh geez…that’s exactly what *shouldn’t* happen but inevitably will. Not because people want to steal (well…most of them anyway), but rather because these two expressed that *they’d* want the Music Genome Project-driven Pandora experience to accompany them during their listening time as I do.

There’s got to be a way to adhere to mechanical licenses, pay the record companies, compensate the artists, all while delivering a Pandora experience that could be recorded and owned by the listener. Their price is $36 per year for unlimited listening. Steve Jobs figured out a way to get the record companies to embrace downloading from iTunes and couple it with liberal use that was still DRM’ed but in not too draconian of a way. Maybe there’d be a way to do this with Pandora…even if it could be as simple as being able to record one hour per day as an AAC or mp3. That’s all most people would need I’d think or if not, tier the service.


  1. Tom Conrad on September 1, 2005 at 12:39 am

    Love it that you’re listening to use while you’re writing. That’s the whole idea. You’ve got a great command of the challenges associated with delivering this experience “to go”; glad ot hear you like it so much you want it everywhere. So do we. Stay tuned.

    CTO @ Pandora

  2. David Underhill on September 28, 2005 at 6:40 am

    I had problems with the initial player but the support team were happy to keep trying and the new version works a treat.
    I love Pandora and would also like a way to “capture” the music to listen to elsewhere.
    Maybe they could keep a record of the track you say you like and then allow you to use that list to get a collection of tracks (or is that what they are working on already?) from Amazon.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.