[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?
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!