Analyst Spotlight: Meet Darian Gray – Rapper, Drummer, Pianist & Pandora Music Analyst

Music analysis is the backbone of Pandora’s recommendation engine, the Music Genome Project, which is the magical force that gives our millions of listeners radio stations that are personalized to their individual tastes. Our music analysts are essential to this process, working day-in and day-out to listen to and meticulously analyze every new song that is added to our catalog.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 5.26.15 PM.pngToday, we are profiling Pandora veteran Darian Gray, who joined the company in 2006 shortly after the service launched on the web.

Darian analyzes songs for Pandora in several of our Genomes, including R&B, reggae, pop, gospel and hip-hop. These genres also match perfectly with his musical career outside of Pandora. As a professional drummer, piano player and rapper, Darian is almost always playing music, whether he is on tour with San Francisco-native Martin Luther, playing drums for R&B classic Booker T. Jones or rapping in his band Dynamic.

With such a busy schedule, Darian considers it one of the perks of working at Pandora that he is able to bring his work wherever his music takes him – often analyzing songs at “any time of day or night” or even while he’s on the road touring. Check out what Darian told me about his background, working at Pandora and touring:

When did you first develop a love for music?

Well, my mother is a singer and my father is a trumpet player. They told me that I first started playing the drums when I was two-years old on my kid-sized drum set. I remember playing music my whole childhood though, and trying to match every lick the drummer played – mostly to a Michael Jackson live album.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 5.28.30 PM.pngHow has being a Music Analyst changed how you listen to music?

It definitely makes me more critical. I analyze instead of just listening, especially if it’s not something that is moving me emotionally…or spiritually. I find myself breaking down all the parts of the song. I guess I’ve always been like that but even more so now.

What is your best tour memory?

It has to be when I played in front of a million people in Brazil with Booker T. It was crazy. From the stage, it literally looked like a sea of people. Just like an ocean, there were different waves moving at different speeds and in different formations. I think it was about 1 a.m. too – all I knew was it was dark and I probably should have been sleeping!

What would you say is your inspiration?

Creating music that inspires me. And of course, my kids and my wife are a giant inspiration for me also.

Laura (Communications)

12 thoughts on “Analyst Spotlight: Meet Darian Gray – Rapper, Drummer, Pianist & Pandora Music Analyst

  1. Darian, thanks for your, and every analysts, hard work. I’ve been a listener to Pandora since it opened its doors on the web and have paid for it for 2 years now. It’s the best money I can spend for music and I listen to you guys religiously. I hate to see how much bandwidth i’ve used just listening to you guys. Keep up the great work.

  2. This was a fun interview. I always enjoy learning about the people behind the curtain. Darian has my dream job! I already listen to 50+ hours of music a week as it is!!!

  3. Congrats Pandora. I have told all of my friends over the years that they should subscribe. They Love Your Site and so do I. Thank You.

  4. I had the pleasure of hearing Darian perform last night in Niagara Falls, NY with Booker T. Jones. Awesome show! True musicians!

    • @Ashley Thanks for your interest. Check in with our Pandora Careers (@PandoraCareers) Twitter account to see if there are any opportunities within Music Ops. -Alyssa

  5. Great to learn about some of the folks behind the music we listen to. I was looking for a way to ask Darian a question and am not sure if this is the best place to ask it of him. Does Darian have any favorite Reggae music that he suggests?

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