To be a standup comic in the San Francisco Bay Area is to live in Robin Williams’ shadow. He lived here. He came up here, performing in the legendary Purple Onion and Holy City Zoo comedy clubs. Every so often, my Facebook and Twitter feeds would light up with posts reading “ROBIN WILLIAMS IS AT MY SHOW” or “Robin Williams saw my set and told me I was funny!” or simply a photo of an open miker, beaming next to a comedy demigod who looks exactly as kind in reality as he did on the big screen in his Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting “inspirational teacher roles.”
I never met Robin Williams. Not once. I never found myself standing in a room with him, and even if I had, I doubt I would have approached him. I don’t take photos with celebrities, as a rule—it always feels self-serving and weird to me, a strange visual humblebrag that my Midwestern upbringing tells me is inappropriate. And what on earth would I have said to Robin Williams? “Hey, I’m a comedian, too, sort of. I have a day job, but someday I’m going to quit, and then I’ll be a real comedian, like you.” That, too, feels gross—if I couldn’t tell Robin Williams “I’m a comedian,” full stop, with no qualifications, then I wasn’t really a comedian. I would wait. I would become a real comedian. And I would run into him some other time, later.
I thought I had more time. We all did. Read More →
I am very excited to announce today that Pandora has crossed the 2 million registered listener mark across Australia and New Zealand! We’re incredibly excited.
When we first entered the ANZ market, we had no idea what would happen; it was like starting from scratch all over again. But the response was amazing. We hit the 1 million registered milestone in one year, and now just seven months later that number has doubled. And all by word of mouth. Wow.
It’s clear that listeners are embracing this more personalized and engaging form of radio. Internet radio not only offers a station for every listener, regardless of their music taste, it also is home to tens of thousands of artists that never get played on any other form of radio – a great platform for discovery – including for the thousands of indie bands in the region that we’ve been adding fast and furiously to the Music Genome Project (by the way, we’d love your suggestions).
With nearly 100 million pieces of “thumb” feedback already from local listeners, we’re rapidly improving the service for the Aussie and Kiwi sensibility. The song choices and personalization are getting better by the minute. Hopefully you’re noticing that!
It’s also great to see so many people adopting mobile and other connected devices for listening. Already, over 75% of our hours are spent on something other than a desktop computer.
Thank you for such a warm embrace. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it were not for the listeners telling their loved ones, friends or even a stranger on the bus about our music discovery service. We owe it all to you and will do everything we can to give you the greatest possible listening experience, for years to come.
Thank you from everyone here at Pandora.
Some of this week’s newest music and genre station highlights on Pandora, fresh from our curation team!
Ian Edwards’ debut album 100% Half-Assed is the very first release from Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco Records, which is “committed to championing groundbreaking comedy, in the tradition of “CONAN” on TBS.” Edwards describes his comedy as “edgy, observational humor with a point of view,” which he applies to a variety of topics including veganism, his Jamaican roots, and Bruce Lee. Edwards is a prolific actor and writer, as well as the host of podcasts Soccer Comics and The Preposterous Sessions.
Night Slugs co-founder Bok Bok takes a new direction, combining his roots in Bass and Grime with the chilled out sounds of R&B and Funk. He’s calling the results R&G — Rhythm & Grime. The EP Your Charizmatic Self leads off with “Melba’s Call”, where nasty synth sounds collide with analog drum claps, creating a perfect instrumental bed for vocalist Kelela. “Howard” sounds like an 80’s Boogie B-Side remixed with the rumble of Bok Bok’s infamous sub bass. The remaining tracks slow down, bringing you into the chilled out world of Night Slug’s latest creation.
In the spirit of Emitt Rhodes, Joey Stec, Chris Bell, Dwight Twilley, Harry Nilsson and Todd Rundgren – Casey Shea is a top-shelf tune-smith specializing in orchestral power-pop. His music is as timeless, moving and catchy as any of his influences.
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Has an album ever changed your life? During my mid 20s, I was accidentally introduced to the music of Gram Parsons, the founder of what he called “cosmic American music,” or more broadly, Country Rock. I was deep in a rock-n-roll only phase when I discovered this music by way of Dinosaur Jr. covering “Hot Burrito #2.” This was a song by Parsons’ oddly named band The Flying Burrito Brothers. I bought the first two albums of that band and my curiosity about Parsons grew.
When I first heard this music I remember thinking many things. How had I not heard this before? Was there similar sounding stuff out there? I always assumed I’d hate the music my dad loved, but these songs made country music make sense.
Curator Eric Shea at the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville
Parsons’ career path catapulted him through some of the most popular bands of the late 60s. He helped The Byrds go country with Sweetheart Of The Rodeo before running off with Byrds’ bassist Chris Hillman. They bought some flashy, hippie, cowboy suits and formed The Flying Burrito Brothers. Parsons purportedly left the Burritos after just one year.
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Last month, we announced that you could download Pandora in the Pebble app store for iOS. We’ve already seen a great response to the first “wearable” technology device that Pandora is available on, so we’re thrilled to share that the Pebble app is now available for Android smartphone users as well.
Just like on iOS, Android users can now view and change stations, thumb songs up and down, skip, play and pause tracks using your Pebble. If you already have a Pebble that is paired to your mobile device, you should get a notification that you can install the Pandora for Pebble app, or you can start the install process at any time from the Pebble Settings Page. Read More →
Most times, the first things you’ll notice are the hiss, pops and crackles of the antiquated fidelity. The genre’s earlier recordings are delightfully haunting – as if you’re hearing ghosts play scratchy old records. And then the slide guitars and fiddles sound like they’re laughing joyously over buoyant rhythms. But when those bouncy horns, piano and guitars saunter in; that’s when you’re hearing some top-shelf Western Swing. And should some cartoonish vocals pipe-in with a high-pitched, “A-ha!” you can be certain that you’re listening to Bob Wills, the king of Western Swing.
Every few years I go through a Bob Wills phase – and by proxy, a Western Swing phase. Subsequently, I just updated Pandora’s Country & Western Swing station with a bunch of my all-time favorite tunes from this realm (as well as some Classic Country and Honky-Tonk for complimentary flavor). Read More →
The Pebble Smartwatch began its life with a simple question: what if a watch could pair with your phone and run apps right from your wrist? We’re happy to announce that Pandora is now one of the apps that can be controlled from only an arm’s length away. Starting today, you can download Pandora in the Pebble app store for iOS. This is the first “wearable” technology device that Pandora is available on, so we’re excited to provide yet another way to take Pandora with you wherever you go.
Using the Pebble, you can view and change stations, thumb songs up and down, skip, play and pause tracks – all from your wrist! If you already have a Pebble that is paired to your mobile device, you should get a notification that you can install Pandora, or you can start the install process at any time from the Pebble Settings Page. Read More →
As a musician and songwriter I understand the hard work, the agonizing over detail and second-guessing that goes into creating music. I respect anyone that rises to the challenge of wrestling with songs. But a third of the way into my workday as a music analyst, after closely listening to hours of music, my ears and brain can get tired. Songs can start to blend into each other. It’s amazing that my job involves spending the day with the thing I love most – music – but like a mid-afternoon cup of coffee, it can really help to have a pick-me-up, a surprise, something that perks up my ears.
I prefer to have as few pre-associations with new music as possible. Promotional photos, Facebook pages, album art, can color my perception of a band – actually affect how I hear the music – so I try to listen as “blind” as possible. I’ve already piled on enough baggage just from the band name alone. I’ll bet you have some general idea of what you’d imagine Sküll Krüshr might sound like, or Lil’ Ca$h. Read More →
Back in the early days of Pandora, I was frequently the person who would post to our blog with news about the latest product enhancements and company milestones. Through the years others increasingly filled that role, but I wanted to pop up here one more time to share one last bit of news: after 10 years, I’m in the process of handing over product and technology leadership to others and transitioning to an advisor role.
I just sent the following email to the Pandora team and I wanted to share it with you as well.
In May of 2004 I met [Pandora founder] Tim for breakfast at a diner in Potrero Hill. I was there to learn about his company Savage Beast and consider the opportunity to join the team of 10 or so he’d assembled. While perhaps I had reservations about the business (music kiosks for book stores!), I knew at once that I wanted to throw my lot in with Tim. Fast forward 10 years and it has truly been the adventure of a lifetime.
The story of Pandora has had many chapters and through most of the twists and turns, I was solely focused on how I could help get the company to the next stage. Rarely did I stop to think about a world where I didn’t make my contribution to the next chapter. I confess though that maybe 18 months ago, I started to think about what I’d need to do to hand over the pen so others could author chapters after my eventual departure.
Then [Pandora's former CEO] Joe’s decision to leave pushed all of those thoughts to the side. My focus for the last twelve months has been to ensure that the company landed confidently in the hands of an exceptional new leader. We’ve found that leader in [Pandora's new CEO] Brian. As I look at the revitalized executive leadership team he has put in place, consider the great leaders on my own team, and contemplate the exciting roadmap we’ve set for the future, I’ve decided that all the pieces are in place to allow me to step aside and let others write the next chapters.
So today we’ve announced that in three months I’ll be transitioning to an adviser role.
We’ve also announced that, effective today, [former Pandora VP of Engineering] Chris Martin has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer and will join the executive leadership team representing our engineering efforts. We are also promoting [former Pandora VP of Technical Operations] Steve Ginsberg to Chief Information Officer today and he and his team will now report to [Pandora CFO] Mike Herring. I’m as proud of all the senior leaders on my team — Chris, Steve, [Pandora VP of Design] Tony and [Pandora VP of Product Management] Mike — as I am about anything I’ve ever accomplished here. These promotions are one reflection of that, and they are richly deserved. If there are successes from the last 10 years you credit to me, they’d almost surely more fairly be credited to Chris, Steve, Tony and Mike.
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If you have ever been to South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival, you know that 6th Street is like a musical pulse running through the heart of Austin. Live music comes pouring out from every direction as attendees file down the closed off street, their ears guiding their next move. For music lovers, it’s a magical experience. At Pandora, we love getting to bring the thrill of discovering an artist to life through live performances, but we also don’t want you to miss out if you can’t make it to Austin for SXSW. That’s why we’ll be live streaming all four days of our third annual Pandora Discovery Den. Read More →