The Ears behind Pandora

[UPDATE: In addition to Pandora’s Music Analysts mentioned below, click here for the second, third, fourth and fifth Analyst spotlights in this series.]
Hello again, Lucia here. I thought I’d pay homage to my brothers and sisters who analyze all of the music you hear on Pandora. Most of you already know that Pandora employs a big team of Music Analysts. They have listened to every single song you hear on your stations. They listen in order to catalog the musicological analysis required for Pandora’s song-matching.
Our Analysts deconstruct songs looking for hundreds of different traits, covering things like vocals, rhythm, instrumentation, harmony, melody, sound production and lyrics. Remember, the Music Genome never generalizes about artists’ repertoires; each song is considered individually. While you’re listening to Pandora you can read about a couple of the basic ‘genes’ we’ve attached to any given song by clicking on ‘why is this song playing?’
Our Analysts sit in our office with headphones on all day, listening to songs, researching songs, and categorizing the musicological make-up of these songs. This is the Music Genome Project. This is the information that drives your station matches. After the analysis is done, it’s up to Pandora’s patented playlist generator to pick songs for your stations.

All of these musicians have to take a music theory test before they are employed here at Pandora, after which they are trained in the different ‘genomes’ that drive the Music Genome Project. Most of them also play gigs around the San Francisco area in addition to being composers, music teachers, directors of musicals, sound engineers, etc. Many of our employees show up on your Pandora stations, and I thought you might like to know who they are! Over the next few weeks I will showcase some of the Pandora stations on which you can hear some of our staff.
Here’s the first installment:
Jeffrey Burr (above, with the beard) plays mellifluous, lyrical jazz guitar. He’s so good that around the office we feel lucky just to hear him warm up!
Scott Rosenberg has saxophone-and-bass avant-garde music under his own name in Pandora, as well as the loose intense rock of P.A.F. whose CD release party is at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco this Saturday!
Danny Eisenberg (above, in the green shirt) plays keyboards on the Tift Merrit live album, which has kind of a southern soul sound. He can also be heard with Stolen Bibles, which mixes funk and soul with bluesy gospel influences, and which Danny describes, simply, as “bad-ass.”
Kevin Seal, who was one of our representatives at SXSW this year, is the vocalist and keyboardist for the melodic psychedelia group Griddle, one of my personal favorites. He can also be heard in Colonel Knowledge, which is organic, lyric-driven light pop. And he plays tenor sax on a Reggae Angels album as well!

If you’d like to hear more about the Music Genome Project in general terms, there is a great Inside The Net podcast from a few months ago on which you can hear our founder Tim Westergren discussing some of the ins and outs of how Pandora works.
Tim on Inside The Net
Or if reading is more your thing, here’s a thorough article on us that was printed last fall. It’s some of our earlier press, but it’s still my favorite article because it describes what it’s like to analyze a song, Pandora-style:
Pandora’s Box: Can a company’s musicological data mining breathe new life into the music industry?
cheers, Lucia
Written while listening to Anouman Radio. It’s not only our Music Analysts who can be found inside Pandora. Vic Wong, our Esteemed Tech Support/QA Engineer, plays guitar for gypsy jazz group Anouman (Pandora describes Vic’s solo as virtuosic…), as well as for The Soul Captives, an r&b reggae mix. Very different styles, both great!


The Pandora Team

99 thoughts on “The Ears behind Pandora

  1. Hello. I have a degree in Music Therapy and would like to know how I could possibly become a Pandora music analyst. I currrently live in San Diego and not really sure where Pandora is based. Any help/info. would be appreciated.

  2. Thanks for helping to expand my musical horizons. I LOVE Pandora, and I’m doing my best to spread the word!

  3. It’s been a while since I’m able to listen to the music I like, all in one single station. You guys are really doing a great job!!
    Thank you for creating PANDORA….
    Greetings from Costa Rica……

  4. Hey why dont you guys have Gone by Frankie J?????Other than that you have done a very good job.Showed me some fantastic songs I would probaly never heard without Pandora.THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!P.S keep up the good work!!!!!!!

  5. Hi!
    I’ve said I love Pandora enough! :) I do, of course, but I wanted to suggest… would it be possible to have an option for “I don’t like it” but only for “I don’t like THIS song”? I only say this because I sometimes the song played by the artist is not one i like or that really reflects the style I’m looking for and I don;t want to click on “I don’t like it” because I know that if you do that twice on the same station, the artist won’t be played again (correct?)… Just wondering…
    Thanks a again and again and again….

  6. Pandora has been a long time coming. Finally a true internet music listening / enjoyment web site. Better then any other web site for finding, listening and discovering many different talented groups and individuals, as well as bringing back those years of memories with music that everyone has grown up listening to. *** Superb #1 *** I will telling everyone I know about your site. Thanks for the excellent work everybody at PANDORA.
    By the way, How does one become an analyst for your group? I would leave my job just to be an analyst for the Pandora team. Are you listening?

  7. i just found out about pandoro on july 6 2006 ilove it keep up the good work and may god bless you. mary ishmael nc

  8. I’m sooo glad, that you’re more than “Ears”,
    maybe Hearts?1
    Sometimes when I’m listening Pandora,
    my flesh is creeping,
    when you show me places,where I’m coming from…
    or you lead me to places, I’m never been before…
    Hope that my dearest smile will find the way across the ocean to you!!

  9. ayayayayay!!! thnks guys!!! amazing job, are you hiring :p ??? AMAZING AYAYAYAYYYY!!! iaiaiaia!!!! wow!

  10. Hi!! Pandora is an increbile invention my fellows!! But I would like to point a few things
    1) Joaquin Sabina is not related to David Bisbal, except they are both from Spain. Sabina also would kill Bisbal if he could.
    2) Argentinian rock is f**** great!! I was surprised when i saw Andr鳠Calamaro here (remember this band: “Los Rodriguez” where Andr鳠played, this was his best band). Please include here artists like Pappo, La Renga, Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota and Ratones Paranoicos. We have very good rock people!!
    Greetings from this southern country known as Argentina.

  11. you people R.O.C.K.!
    “We’re not worthy,
    we’re not worthy,
    we’re not worthy,
    we’re not worthy…”

  12. I read about Pandora and Westergren on an airplane, I failed to remember to bring some reading material so I was stuck with reading the magazines provided, you know the ones they stick in the pocket in front of you under your tray. As I was skimming through the pages I caught myself continuing to read this particular article that described Pandora and the people behind it. I was hooked. So I asked for a pen and wrote down the web site and here I am.
    I have a GREAT passion for music, from The Dandy Warhols to Enya, and John Fogerty to Frank Sinatra. I have a GREAT passion for music, and I admire completely what everyone at Pandora is working towards.
    Keep the music alive,
    Cassie P

  13. Recently, my wife and I were turned on to Pandora by our nephew, a musician/composer who lives in Chicago. He loves your site, and it provides him with more-than-occasional inspiration. In a single week, we have heard more good recorded music and been offered better fresh recommendations than from all other sources combined in the last 12 months. Thank you, thank you!
    Two characteristics about the segues from recommendation to recommendation puzzle us. I believe Lucia when she says that each tune is analyzed for many characteristics; however, people, although each of us is blessedly unique, tend to have more in common in very basic tastes than more that separates us. Both my wife and I are experiencing a similar pattern as Pandora builds our stations: if we leave them to grow, without our expressing opinions, there is seemingly a distinct progression towards songs that are more upbeat and more heavily-produced than your initial offering. Is this our imagination or is this tendency, perhaps, hardwired into the tastes of true music enthusiasts? Increasing production and
    complexity almost always trump tone–and tone is closer to the core of the threads we want to hear expanded. Maybe, after we have listened for a few more dozens of hours, we will discover that this pattern we have both perceived is anomalous–or does not exist!
    In the meantime, I thank you again. You are providing us LOTS of deep enjoyment!

  14. I just love your project Im so glad that people still have awesome ideas that can made come true and also make a living from it. I envy your job but you also make my job less boring since I’m a graphic designer and I’m the whole day sitting in front of my Mac listening and finding new music.
    Thanks for keeping us alive!!!!!

  15. Someone told me about Pandora forever ago and I just got onto it and I think it’s great. I love the variety! My only criticism is that there isn’t a lot of Euro hip-hop/R&B (I’m not even going to touch the idea of Japanese/Chinese rap). Artists like Xavier Naidoo (Germany), Outlandish (wrote “Walou”) or Jay Chou (Taiwan) aren’t on here despite being pretty huge in the rest of the world; the same goes for UK garage groups. I dunno if Pandora can accomodate this type of music, but it is definitely cool. All in all, though, Pandora is pretty rock.

  16. It’s a great station for me and our friends in my office listening PANDORA program.and I tell everyone for this web a good station

  17. Well, This is quite the project. Hope you get done on time :) I was never good with due dates and term papers either!
    Thanks for the freshness of music. It’s made life musically surprising again.

  18. First of all, kudos!
    Pandora does a good job of matching music within a genre. Since one of the styles I like is bebop, Pandora reliably feeds me more bebop. However, Pandora is less successful in discerning talent and taste, which is probably impossible to do without turning your musicologists into critics. Nonetheless, you have to admit that not all tenor saxophone solos over latin percussion, for example, are created equal.
    Giving the user the right to ban particular artists (a remedy suggested above) may not be THE answer, but it would help to improve the listening experience until a better means in found.

  19. Hello, I love this site! Its so innovative and unique. Im on this site whenever Im on the computer :) But I was wondering why we can’t replay songs. For example if I find a song I like and want to hear it again, why can’t I just click on it? Or why can’t I go backwards? Im also wondering if I can get artists from different countries. I could go on forever about varouis questions lol. But overall I think this site it awesome. Keep up the good work! :)

  20. Awesome dudes.When I am surfing the net your musical selection keeps me cruising.The way you can alter your own music channel is fantastic .How do you do this business when it’s free to air?Good shit men!

  21. This service is possibly the best and most useful site I have seen in years. You rock!
    You should integrate with Xbox 360-type devices if poss…then the MS Media Centre would actually be worth bothering with! OK, Xbox needs a browser first but you know what I mean…
    Imagine listening to something on Pandora through your media centre/stereo, liking it and buying it through your Pandora account with Amazon. Seamless…

  22. i would like to give a thumbs up to you all!
    genius work u guyz have done for us picky listeners.
    i wanted to know whether you know yet the recipe for a hit song- i am sure there is a brainy answer to that and am trying to decipher that on my own…
    any way – i would like to reenforce the comment of the narrowing down of a certain station, if you could add the option of of eliminating the songs of a certain band that comes up on my station Would LOOOOOOVE that to happen

  23. I’ve created almost a hundred stations thus far with Pandora. Some I like better than others. All and all, though, this is a great concept. I cannot stand prattle that I hear on FM stations. Does anyone remember when such stations were creative with DJs that weren’t in love with the sound of their own voices.
    In any event, thanks for giving me the ability to listen to artists and songs that I haven’t heard for decades as well as introducing me to songs and artists that I’ve never heard before me.
    Keep up the good work.

  24. I have bought so much music that I have discovered thru Pandora. What a great boon to Amazon and the music industry!

  25. Love Pandora!! Great concept. One comment if I may……My station “British Invasion Radio” continues to play lots of selections from bands and artists “not British”. While I enjoy those tracks, is there any way to definitively sort them out?
    Keep up the great work and thank you for all your efforts.

  26. dear Pandora,
    you guys are doing an amazing job here, i love the radio stations and the mixes of music that you compile. i just have one suggestion, and one question. The suggestion is to find some sort of simple way to advertise the website, because this site seems to be one of the best keep secrets of the net. Perhaps you can raise awareness through an html banner that can be reposted on sites such as myspace and such. my question is for the guys and gals that have compiled the coheed and cambria radio station. what are the qualities that the other bands share with coheed? because it seems to me that each song that plays on that radio station is somewhat similar, but not really in the same ballpark. i was just wondering if someone could take the time to explain it to me.
    thanks alot guys! youre doing a great job and keep up the good work!
    i remain,

  27. I listen mostly at work. It really bothers me that some songs are so quiet and others blare out.
    I would have thought that the first thing you guys would have installed would have been sound leveling.
    Also, instead of picking a group or song, I would rather pick a catagory, such as “Prog rock” or Hard rock”. Whenever I add a new artist to a playlist, it seems to focus only on that newly added artist, or go completely in a different direction if I add more than one artist.
    Just a few glitches. For the most part I like it.


  29. este proyecto me parece lo maᡸimo, felicitaciones
    gracias por tan buena m?, sigan adelante

  30. I set up a station for REGIONAL music and got tired of ‘skipping’ ahead.
    Like “CHICAGO Blues”, “Motown” or “New Orleans”.
    I would like to define a station with tighter parameters. Adding a location and genre could help some?


  32. Could You please analyze some Jet Set Satellite, they are releasing a new album called “Vegas”. They only released one album up until now, It is called “Blueprint”, They are a good band, so please, add some Jet Set Satellite!

  33. Hey! I just wanted to say, you guys have a great selection of unknown punk bands, that I do love, but what about the well-known ones?

  34. Wonderful that I found Pandora – listening to my favorites and hearing music by the way I normally would not find here in Germany.
    You do a great job.

  35. I am a great fan of Pandora, and have been for most of this year now. I happen to be an American who grew up all of his life in France and, thus, still love to listen to French music–being fluent in French and all that. I hadn’t thought of plugging in some of my favorite artists until just recently. A few actually came up–like Francis Cabrel–but to my great dismay–NOT Jean-Jacques Goldman. He is, arguably, the most versatile and prolific singer songwriter from the past several decades there! Can we get some Goldman analyzed! It’s enthralling! It would be very interesting to see who comes out with him…
    Most of all–great job on all this musical labor Pandora!

  36. Hi, I joined Pandora in June. And I think that’s the best thing that could have ever happened. I love listening to soulful and good country music but never had the chance to listen to all of them. Pandora has been so helpful in aiding this cause. I fell inlove with it the day I began using it.
    I have so far enjoyes La Bamba, Country music mainly by John Denver, Garfunkel. My favoorite is Annie’s song nd Jennifer Juniper. However, I have heard Annie’s song just once and i am longing to listen to it for a very long time. Disappointed about that too.
    Anyways, I think that the job of a music analyst seems very interesting although it has it’s own difficult points. I want to know more about being a music analyst or a musicologist. ;-)
    Thanks Lucia and the entire team. Appreciate this a lot.

  37. nice job! with all due respect, a comment: of course Sabines is not related to Bisbal! They both are excellent -different styles, different generations …. To me, Sabina is better composer than singer, (I like his songs, not his voice); on the other hand, Bisbal is a remarkable singer and performer, that is why people love him so much. I like Sabines, of course but I do love Bisbal!

  38. I’ve been having a fun time listening to the stations I have created on this website, but I haven’t been able to make one for Movie/Broadway tunes (I don’t care which artists they come from, just as long as they were once played in a movie or a musical). I would also like to be able to search by composer, since it would make it easier to find some types of movie music, such as that done by John Williams. I would also like to hear marching band and drumcore music. There seems to be almost no songs for this.

  39. I like alot of what you do, but when it comes to Dixieland – one of my favorite kinds of music – I can’t understand how you rationalize all the stuff you put in that category that bears no resemblance of traditional dixieland music.

  40. I had to put thumbs down on many songs by some of my favorite artists because they were Christmas songs. Also, I have a station I named ”Female Vocalists”. After rejecting more than twenty very good songs by very good male vocalists, you still don’t get the idea. Is it possible for you to fine-tune the system to deal with such matters?

  41. Hi guys, just wanted to tell you that you�re doing a great job, and off course, I listen to you all day…thanks from Paraguay…

  42. There are many nice Japanese songs by Utada Hikaru and she is quite famous in Asia. I hope that you are able to make her music more accessible in Pandora. All the best~!