You’ve got to hear this…

Hi everybody and welcome to the Pandora Preview. For some time we’ve been hard at work building what we hope will be the best music discovery service anywhere and we’ve just kicked off our preview release. We’ve dedicated our attention to creating a service that is all about the music itself. Pandora isn’t focused on bios, histories, band photos, hyperlinks and so forth. Instead we created something that lets you use your ears, not your mouse to discover new music.
Everyone here is really passionate about helping people connect with great music. I think Pandora is a great step toward that goal and I hope you discover something really great today. For my part, I’ve been listening to stations based on Wilco, Bright Eyes, and Iron & Wine and I’m hearing something new and unexpected every day.
The preview release is all about getting your feedback and we’d love to hear from you. Drop a note to pandora-support with your feedback or leave us a comment here on the blog. We’re really looking forward to hearing from you.

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

36 thoughts on “You’ve got to hear this…

  1. I love it! The only extra things I could dream of getting hold of are instrumentation on the various criteria to aid in really narrow training, and access to my radio stations over an authenticated stream in iTunes (perhaps without the ability to train it via that interface).

  2. Wow! This is fun! I love music more than almost everything and I am enjoying the way things come together

  3. This is great!
    Years ago, when I was in college, I had an army of intelligent agents (i.e., friends) on the hunt for new music I might like. But now, my friends lives have gotten busier, and its harder to find new stuff that is “like” what I like.
    A few comments, I’m sure most of which are already in the works:
    - A number of actions in the UI are irreversible; if I skip a song, I can’t go back, and if I change stations from A to B to A, I lose what was playing before on A. This makes me afraid to click on things.
    - Let me go back and hear a song again! I know its like radio, but it can be like Tivo too!
    - More history! Right now, I can only see the last three songs on a channel; I’d like to see more. I might want to buy one of them, but if its gone when it scrolls off, that’s a loss for both of us. Ideally, “every song you ever played for me.” Database bits are cheap.
    - Feedback. The FAQ talks about feedback, but I haven’t figured out how to activate it. Feedback would be both for me (to remember the new stuff I’ve discovered) and for you (to build “people who liked X like Y” databases).
    Keep up the good work!

  4. For this charter member of the Baby Boom generation, the opportunity to learn of younger musicians who still work in familiar genres is very appealing–and addictive!
    Playlist direction seems determined by the first selection presented from chosen artist. I was amused by hearing first-up Van Morrision’s “Motherless Child” followed by something by the Backstreet Boys.
    The link to Amazon can provide background information about artists, and browser history keeps track of subjects of interest. So if I’m working at the keyboard, I can record my explorations outside your application; if not, I have to stop what I’m doing and check the screen. I agree with Mr. Brian Goetz, that a history feature within Pandora would facilitate both my appreciation and possible purchase of particular tracks and/or albums.
    Some excellent features:
    >display of album covers while tracks play
    >finetuning through Guide Us
    >sound quality
    Thanks for the tunes!

  5. 22:35 7/27/2005 [to Craig Sterry]:
    I showed it to Keala. She chose Cat Stevens. Two songs into it, Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle came up, she said, ‘this is what I meant to ask for’. Then she asked, ‘can you add Joan Baez? that would be my absolute favorite combination.’ Which we did.
    We are both *digging* this a lot.
    I love how it introduces me to artists I’ve never heard of, or never heard, and I *like* the music it’s chosen (of course, since I chose it to begin with, in a way). I’ve already bought an album based on one of the songs it chose (Ben Harper, in the Cat Stevens/Joan Baez channel we set up).
    I am bummed I can’t at least view the songs in the playlist it’s already played (for example, wanted to look up the name of the Ben Harper song mentioned above). Mucho kudos to you guys.
    22:41, 7/27/2005:
    make that 2 records: Birele Lagrene & Gipsy Project, ‘Move’, played on the Dan & Django station.
    07:48, 7/28/2005:
    My brother is a 2-item pizza kind of guy. He can’t stand it when I want to add more ingredients. I am beginning to understand what he means: choosing only two artists returns such a rich yet varied palette, I’m not sure I want to venture adding a third. I realize all this depends on the richness of attributes captured for each track by your staff. Keep those folks happy, lookin’ good so far.
    07:52, 7/28/2005:
    Hey! Israel Kamakawiwa’ole, man! You godda have im! Doan chew got enny Hawaiian listeners, bra?
    Bur.

  6. Hey Tom – good work. I just went to the Mark Knopfler concert at the Winery last night, so I’m going to find some music like that.

  7. I like this a lot! Congratulations.
    Some suggestions and notes:
    A few songs seem to be recorded badly; for instance, The Cowboy Lives Forever (The Whites) seems to be cut short. Others (sorry, didn’t write down names of the two songs) have hiccups that I originally attributed to network trouble, but then changed my mind when the next song was fine.
    Songs repeat much too frequently. This is the only thing so far that might make me not use it. Maybe this is because I’ve used a single channel with a number of suggested bands/artists?)
    It would be nice to have a date control (“On this channel I prefer songs that are more contemporary” or something) and a suggestion control (“On this channel, please give me more suggestions”) that plays songs on the basis of the starting bands and songs I gave you, but *less songs by the actual bands*.
    Gary

  8. Technical suggestion: volume normalization. I find myself having to adjust the volume frequently, which can (in the typical case) be easily adjusted by normalizing the dynamic range of the tracks.
    Already have three new albums in my Amazon shopping cart.

  9. Love it Love it LOVE IT!
    Within the first half hour it played songs I’d never heard by two artists I love, then three songs by artists I’ve never heard of, but I now like!
    I spent half my time grinning like a maniac and half trying to put on my Serious-Work-Face so I don’t get in trouble.
    Easy to use too. I set up 5 different ‘stations’ in the first couple hours. One for when I’m energetic, one for when I WISH I was, one for when I’m in my normal mood, one for when I MUST concentrate on what I’m doing and one for “hey, I wonder what will play?”
    I’ve dubbed it “MY Internet Radio Without Commercials” and I found my desire to hear what would come next to be nearly addictive!
    When I tell it that I like a song that’s playing, it says “Cool, glad you liked it!” if I tell it I DON’T like a song, it apologizes and promises to never play that song on that particular station. Ya gotta love that!
    (OOoo.. it just pulled up a Tori Amos I’ve never heard.. apparently Pandora’s picked up on how much I love her piano work.)
    The coolest thing is clicking the “Why is this song playing?” button. I know SOME of the reasons I like certain songs and don’t like others, but with a lot of them I just shrug and say “I dunno.. I just do.” THIS software can TELL me and in words I can understand!
    Apparently I like Rhythm Piano, and (get this) “Breathy Female Lead Vocalists.” Rhythm Piano? Yup, that’s me. “Breathy Female Lead Vocalists???” That made me fall out of my chair laughing because I would NEVER have thought to put it that way! My CD collection IS full of female leads, so I’m guessing Pandora is onto something there.
    At this rate, they’ll be able to tell me why I love Enya, but don’t like Loreena McKennitt (well.. except Mummer’s Dance) or why the Grateful Dead leaves me cold.
    Hmm.. I wonder if they have a setting for “I’m a sucker for love songs, so hit me with what you’ve got.”
    I agree w/ an earlier comment about volume normalization but since every player I’ve ever tried has the same trouble, it’s not a big deal.
    So, my final thought on my first day:
    I now have a reason to upgrade from my 200mHz Pentium running Windows 95 and using Dial-up. I know people who will go into shock when I do, but this is music I can LISTEN to! I have the feeling that I’m going to have to come to work this weekend. :-)
    Thanks for the invite to preview, I’m loving what I hear!

  10. Day 2 with Pandora
    “Pandora & a T-1 Pipe: Making Work as Fun As Play”
    I’ve been setting up my “Jammin” station. It’s for stuff I listen to when I’m in the mood to bounce off the walls, so I have things like Van Halen’s “Panama” and Pink Floyd’s “Dogs of War” added to help guide Pandora.
    I was happily bouncing and leaving footprints on the ceiling when I heard Donna Lewis’ waif-like voice singing “I Love You Always Forever.”
    [insert the sound of tires screeching to a halt on hot pavement here]
    Complete halt to bouncing…. WHAT am I hearing??? I LOVE this song, sure, and it’s on my “Sappy Love Songs” station, but in my JAMMIN’ station???? WHAT is THAT about??? Well, I’ve been happy with Pandora so far and really should give her selections a chance. So I sat and listened for a minute, and I can tell you what gives. That song is my first “Unexpected Crossover,” that’s what gives. I listened and it’s got the strong, steady rhythm, a relatively quick beat, and a good chunk of synth-based production added. The fact that it’s a sappy love song didn’t EXCLUDE it from bein’ a bouncy tune. Pandora got what I hadn’t realized and so suggested it as a fitting part of my Jammin station.
    Coooooolllllll………
    As I’ve been working I’ve been observing Pandora experiment with my varied inputs on my Jammin’ Station. Songs I’ve added as influences include:
    Enya’s “Tempus Vernum”
    Ramstein’s “Du Hast”
    Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever” (‘Added’ by clicking the “I really like this song” button)
    Van Halen’s “Panama”
    Gwen Stephani’s “Hollaback Girl”
    I’m not just having a great time listening to Pandora’s selections, but I’m also beginning to hear and appreciate those qualities that Pandora used in selecting each song.
    Actually, that’s currently my favorite part of Pandora: I’m listening to the SAME songs I’ve listened to for years, but now I’m actually hearing MORE music in them! I’m gaining a more in-depth appreciation of the music. Pandora’s “Why is this song playing” button is broadening my appreciation of the music I love while introducing me to music I might otherwise have never heard.
    Let’s see……… I have advanced software looking at my choices in ways I never considered, it’s making highly accurate suggestions based on my choices, it’s happy to tell me WHY each selection was made, I’m gaining a deeper appreciation for the music, AND I retain complete control over the selection with the “I like” and “I don’t like” buttons.
    Double-Coooooollllll……… (A term that doesn’t BEGIN to describe my feeling on Pandora right now)
    Note To Self: When a song I’ve actually added to the list plays, press the “Why is this song playing?” button and see if Pandora says “Cuz YOU put it on the list, REMEMBER????” :-)

  11. More Suggestions for Pandora:
    When I “dis” a song, don’t tell me, “Sorry about that.” Is Pandora truly, genuinely remorseful? Sheesh. Gimme a break.
    Make the “YOUR STATIONS” list alphabetically sortable. Currently the list is just chronological by when stations were created. How the heck do I find a station I created early on? I have to sort throught 100 station names.
    If a subscriber thinks a song sucks, give her/him the option of never ever having to hear that song again–not just on that particular list–on any list.
    Drop “Radio” from the end of the name of every station. The current setup makes station names too long and unnecessarily causes them to be listed with “…” at the end of the station name. (The column width under “Create a New Station” is too skinny.) Yes, I understand I have the option of renaming the station, but it’s a minor pain.
    Put “quotes” around the song title of a station’s name when a station is named after a song. Better yet, have 2 lists: one list for stations that are named after artists and a second list for stations that are named after song titles.
    Number the stations in the “YOUR STATIONS” list. That way you’d know how many stations you’ve created. Will paying subscribers also be limited to 100 stations? If so, then numbering the stations is even more of a necessity.
    The scrollbar on the side of the “YOUR STATIONS” list is unwieldy and difficult to operate.
    Despite these quibbles, I’m have a truly great time exploring Pandora.
    Anally yours,
    Lorenzo

  12. I am captured by my computer. Instead of simply checking my e-mail; I am reading Salon and catching up with other reading while I listen to your grand vision. Good luck and Cheers! I am sure to learn a lot more about music as well as new artists…which brings me to this…
    My interest is in learning. Having access to prior playlists, reviews and album data would make for a more fully developed service that would make you more than “the DJ”, but rather, the authority.
    Thanks.

  13. This is fantastic! I’d seen it demonstrated at your offices and was eagerly awaiting it’s beta release. Thanks for letting me test it.
    One comment I have is that the volume levels seem to not be consistent from track to track.

  14. Born in 551 B.C., K’ung Ch’iu (aka “Confucius”) attempted to perfect himself in the six ancient arts: charioteering, archery, history, ritual, numbers, and…music. Master K’ung felt that the “flowering of the individual” is the ultimate aim in life; for as people cultivate harmony within themselves, each person will bring peace everywhere. He believed that music consummates a man’s life, giving his rituals meaning…and that music has a transforming effect on its listeners and should be the first principle of government! As it helps people discover new musical loves, perhaps Pandora should start endorsing candidates for public office who are willing to run on a “music first” platform :-)

  15. OK.. you guys have done it.. there are now TWO Loreena McKennitt songs I like. Woulda never known w/out Pandora (I’d kinda given up on liking Ms. McKennitt’s work)! Next thing you know I’ll hear a Cheryl Crowe song I like (Hey.. it could happen!)
    Must concur with previous blogs on the Stations and their identification/sorting. I’d prefer to be able to order them myself as I tend to go through moods over the course of a few days and being able to set the current mood’s station(s) at the top would make things easier on me. The previous comment about numbering is, imho, also very wise. I’m beginning to see the benefit of 100 stations (Thanks to Pandora and the differences I can now here, I plan to make a ‘Jammin’ and a “Hard-Core” to differentiate between two stages of High-Energy), so perhaps numbering would be wise.
    I agree w/ the previous comment about being able to view one’s ‘entered’ and ‘I like this song’ selections. In my view, to keep ease-of-use to a maximum (by limiting the potentially immobilizing number of choices), I’d suggest not adding that function to the ‘standard’ release. If a premium service is going to be provided above the standard, then this would be where to place ‘control fiend’ stuff for people like me.
    Comment from a friend when I related the tale of Donna Lewis on my Jammin list: That’s GOOD.. I WANT some diversity, not just the same stuff every time! Good thing he’s now been invited, eh?

  16. I’ve just spent my first couple of hours using the service, and on first glance it looks wonderful. Just a couple of suggestions:
    1. It’d be really nice to have a way to tell how long the song is, and how long its been playing.
    2. I think the option to suggest either like or dislike of a song should also be an option when you click on a song as well as when you click the “Guide Us” button.
    Finally, a question: is the service optimal at more input or less? That is, how many songs should I say I like or dislike? Should I put all my favorite artists into one station and get a variety (i.e. Launch Radio) or create different stations for each genre?
    Overall, excellent work!

  17. Just to put Pandora to the test, I immediately put in some of the more obscure music on my hit parade: The Books? Pandora did not blink an eye, put on one of my favorite Books songs, then not to be outdone, played a track by Animal Collective. Wow! I’m impressed! Then, as if to say, “How ya like me now??” it put on a band I’d never heard of that I loved right away. I went straight to Amazon and bought a CD. Ok, how about Juana Molina? No problem. Pinback? Pandora sees my Pinback and raises me a Neotropic. You guys have seriously been busy listening!!
    Thanks again- Excellent work!

  18. A suggestion for future versions:
    How about if, in addition to “Buy this song on Amazon” and “Buy this song on iTunes” there was a link to “Learn more about this artist on All Music Guide” or go to the artist’s website?

  19. I can’t even tell you how much I love Pandora. I’m telling friends that I finally found the best and most important use of the web!
    I can’t believe how much new music I’m discovering due to your hard work. I can’t wait to pay for the service, and I find the future rates very reasonable. Even with all the money I’ll be spending on new music now.
    **It would be great to be able to know if a particular artist I’m listening to is local. I don’t know how that would work, but it would be great.
    Pandora recommended to me one of my favorite local bands, with no input from me. (20 Minute Loop, of San Francisco, if you’re curious)
    Once I got over my shock at Pandora’s omniscience, I was suddenly a little nervous that these other bands that I’m being turned on to are local, and that I could be missing out on seeing them live! I guess even a link to band websites would accomplish this, ’cause Amazon doesn’t always clue me in.
    I’m finding the interface really easy to use, and funny and friendly! I love the casual “voice” of Pandora.
    And I love that it’s not considering labels or popularity when it recommends music. This is so important to me!
    I find some of the other users’ comments a little picky, but it’s true that if your music licenses allow for it, it would be really helpful to be able to know what songs have played recently.
    I’m adding everything I like to my Amazon wish list, but if I’m not hypervigilant about that, I get sad about “losing” the name of a band or song that I really liked.
    Thanks again. I am going to do my little part to make ya’ll rich and famous.
    -a Pandora evangelist

  20. Pandora, Week 1:
    Still lovin’ every minute. I’m discovering a LOT of music I’d never heard by artists I like (Bjork had so much more to offer than I’d realized) and a LOT of stuff I’d never have given a chance at the local CD place!
    I have a bunch of friends now using it and they all love it!! I’ve been showing them how to use the Guide Us Button to tailor their preferences. One friend who’s been using a
    My biggest challenge now is trying to remember songs I like so I can add them to my stations or, when I’m driving somewhere and hear one I like, remembering the name long enough to add it when I get back.
    Pandora seems to have learned that when I use one particular station, I want a VERY limited type of song. So I’m guessing that the tailoring function is working pretty well! Of course, being Pandora, she still sneaks in the occasional surprise for me and I must admit, they always match at least some of my criteria for that station!!!

  21. Bug? “Too High” by Pat Martino, on Blue Note Plays Stevie Wonder… chose ‘Buy this CD from Amazon’ and Amazon couldn’t find it. Amazon carries it ()’ I guess that Pandora constructed a malformed URL?

  22. Ditto for ‘Sad Lisa’ from Cat Stevens’ Majikat: the query from Pandora yielded a ‘not found’ result on Amazon, although they carry the album ().

  23. Dig into the Music Long Tail – Pandora

    Company: Pandora (formerly Savage Beast Technologies)
    Launched: July 21 (private alpha)
    Public Beta: Within two weeks
    Location: London
    Overview:
    Do you love music? Are you the kind of person who’s pissed off because your iPod only holds 80 gig…

  24. Crazy about this service. So are so many others in my department – having to kick them out of the office so that I can get something done.
    I am a clinical nursing instructor (emergency) and during lunch showed this to my students. So much fun plugging in artists (most of whom were new to me as these are 20 somethings and I am a 50 something)We were dancing and having fun. There is not enough fun in a hospital – we need more of this.
    I have a question/suggestion:
    I would like to access music of a similar genre – for instance jazz with a latin/brasil beat. Is there a way to do that?
    Victoria Leavitt

  25. Love this thing !
    Thank you so much for this.
    Just gets into news in germany.
    Really looking for somebody to build the
    “wireless bluetooth in-my-pocket voter
    (good/bad buttons)”
    - perhaps the 3rd button should be named “skip” ;-)
    Great thing – great team !
    I need to have a look if the
    http://www.i-really-love-pandora.de /.com domain is
    still free.
    Tobias Demuth from Germany.

  26. Amazing.
    Absolutely cool
    Well Done.
    Great Thing !!! Great Team.
    i knew laszlo is cool but you guys have outshadowed ur research and work.
    The system speaks.
    Vaneet

  27. Screwing with Pandora
    I started checking out Pandora early last week. Basically, Pandora is a cheap rip-off of Launchcast. It apparently uses some complicated algorithm to find the base types of songs you like – transcending musical genres.
    Sometimes it?s genius, other times it?s thick-headed useless. I really shouldnt? say it?s a rip on Launchcast. It?s quite cool.
    Basically, you go to Pandora.com, put in an artist you like, and then it breaks that artist down to its base musical characteristics (type of rhythm, melody, type of music, syncopation, politicalness of music). It then finds similar music, across genres. For the first 20 minutes or so, it was working great. I picked Evanescence as the music I liked and it found Creed, Staind, Kelly Clarkson, Nickelback, etc, all of which is music I liked. But it was all a bit poppy, so I added an ?artist I like? right into the mix: Eminem.
    Ever since, 90% of the music it tosses my way is crappy hip-hop or R&B. I like, maybe, 8 such artists, so I?m constantly fighting Pandora?s recommendations.
    So, I?ve given up. Launchcast?s way of actually rating artists may be more manual, but I actually get music I like after spending 20 minutes rating music. With Pandora, it either works great or it sucks. For the last half hour I?ve been ?I hate this??ing hardcore hate rap, and I?ve now given up on Pandora.

  28. Feature Request
    I’d like to be able to narrow a station to just one genure. I know Pandora’s about discovering music but there are times when I just want to hear a certain style of music. Even when you have trained a station for a long time to try to get it to play just a certain style of music, you still get odd songs.

  29. CAN PANDORA DJ BY THEME? FOR EXAMPLE “CHRISTMAS THEME” SHOULD PLAY ONLY CHRISTMAS SONGS? “CHILDREN SONG THEME” SHOULD PLAY CHILDREN SONGS ???
    THAT SHOULD BE PERFECT…
    JUST MY 2 CENTS

  30. Just the best that ever happened to internet radio, that what it is.
    I am a musician myself, and this is exactly what I have been looking for all these years: just put in your artist you want to hear at that moment, sit back and enjoy!
    Also, it is completely ad-free for the mo, althoug that is going to change from what I read. Nevermind. This is the first station I actually want to pay for. You guys deserve it.
    I put in Brian Eno and now I have a whole Favourites page full of new undiscovered music.
    Oh, I’d love some dark ambient acts such as Raison d Etre, Ordo Equilibro and Sanctum. Then my own band For Greater Good will fit right in ;)
    Keep up this fantastic job, and if you need a co-worker, just mail me ;)
    IZ.

  31. certainly the best invention since the internet itself. guys you make me happy. cant believe i am discovering this so late…
    rock on

  32. Hey guys,
    Love Pandora I’ve found so much great music, but the only thing is I wish I could go back and look over the songs I’ve already listened to just so if I want to buy them later.
    Keep it up

  33. The link to Amazon can provide background information about artists, and browser history keeps track of subjects of interest. So if I’m working at the keyboard, I can record my explorations outside your application; if not, I have to stop what I’m doing and check the screen. I agree with Mr. Brian Goetz, that a history feature within Pandora would facilitate both my appreciation and possible purchase of particular tracks and/or albums.

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