Pandora Rocks

Music discovery has never been more difficult for me. First of all, I have less time than I’ve ever had to listen to new music, whether it’s going to concerts, listening to the radio (satellite or terrestrial) or simply browsing the inventory at Amazon, CDBaby or iTunes.

And frankly, even if I had copious amounts of time, I’m not sure that more time listening to these sources would help me out. Why? Well terrestrial radio is just too much talk, too many commercials and still only plays the mainstream hits – even the supposed indie channels don’t seem to take any real chances.

As a longtime listener to XM radio, it’s “better” than terrestrial radio in that the mix to chatter to music is good, but the music library feels small to me. Perhaps this is because of lawsuits from the record labels trying to extract additional fees from XM that regular terrestrial stations don’t pay. Either way, I find very few new artists on XM.

So what’s one to do? To me there is one excellent and simple way: Pandora. The Music Genome Project is the basis of the technology which analyzes an artist (or song) that you like and discovers other new music that is similar. All along the way, you get to rate particular music tracks and the system really learns what you like.

Okay, you’ve used affinity systems before. They suck. You may even have been an early Pandora user (as I was) and you may have found it hit or miss. Well, they’ve nailed it now. It really, really works. They’ve licensed a ton of more content and categorized many more songs. And being a lifelong musician I’d have to admit that I agree with upwards of 80-90% of their selections. The best part however, is the content they are categorizing isn’t the mainstream junk that one normally hears on the other channels. Pandora has become a very simple and powerful platform in my musical life: I input tunes and artists I already love and it spits out even more tunes and artists that I love that I’ve never heard of. It just works. Two of the three music recommendations on my music tab were discovered through the site.

Thank you Pandora. Keep it going guys.