Pandora

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

Announcing Pandora for Palm Pre

pre.jpgOne of the great things about my job is that every once and a while I get to see some cool new phone or gadget before its been announced or released. Back in December 08, the team at Palm invited us to come to their offices in Sunnyvale for a sneak peek at their new OS and phone. I went in with modest expectations and was blown away by all they had achieved. I remember leaving the building excited about the chance to help them launch their new phone and to act as an early design partner for their development SDK.
Fast forward 6 months and the Palm Pre is now in the hands of real live users and people are starting to listen to Pandora from their new phones. We’re really excited about the results. Pandora on the Pre is a great listening experience – a fluid user interface with all the standard Pandora features you’ve come to expect on the web. It even runs in the background where it presents a mini playback control panel in the Pre’s dashboard area.
To learn more about Pandora for Palm Pre, click here.
If you’ve haven’t seen the great commercial Palm is running to announce the Pre, click here to get a look – and keep your eyes peeled for a Pandora mention toward the end.
I’m really happy to add the Palm Pre alongside the other Pandora smartphone implementations on iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile. Covering the entire smartphone space is a big task and we’re not done yet, but we’re devoted to bringing Pandora to every smartphone platform where our listeners want us to be. Yes Android users that means we’ve heard you loud and clear – you’re next!

Pandora One: Upgrade the Pandora Experience

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When you start building something like Pandora you quickly realize there’s going to be a bunch of things that you’d love to do from day one that will have to wait for a later date. We have a long list like that and one staple of that list for the last 4 years has been an upgraded version of Pandora for listeners who want more features, better audio quality, and other things that we just can’t do in the advertising-supported free version of the product. Well, the day has finally come when we can cross this one off our list.
Introducing Pandora One.
For $36/year we’ll upgrade you and enhance your experience with these new features:
* High Quality Streaming: When listening on the web, experience 192K bits per second audio. That’s the highest quality streaming experience on the Internet. More bits means better sounding music.
* Pandora One Desktop: Listen to Pandora from a dedicated desktop application; no need to keep a browser window open. Control playback from the Windows taskbar or the Macintosh dock. Get popup alerts when a new song starts to play. This is the ultimate Pandora experience: simple, efficient, pure.
* No Ads: Pandora One is completely free of any sort of advertising: no audio ads, no visual ads. It’s just you and your music.
* Personalize Your Look: Surround the Pandora player with one of 8 custom “skins” that will make the look of Pandora as personalized as the music.
* Mini Player: Minimize Pandora One into the smallest possible browser window. This makes it easy for the web version of Pandora to live side by side with other web sites and applications.
* Skip All Day Long: With the standard ad supported version of Pandora you’re limited to 12 total skips per day. With Pandora One you’ll be able to skip as many times per day as you’d like (note you will still be limited, thanks to licensing constraints, to six skips per hour).
* Extended Interaction Timeout: Listen for up to 5 hours in a row without interacting with Pandora at all. Just turn it on and let it go. Every time you interact the timer is reset so just one click around lunchtime can get you through an entire workday.
So that’s Pandora One. The highest quality audio. Pandora One Desktop. No Ads. More features. No limits. As with everything we do, we’re very interested in hearing your feedback. Drop us an email or a comment here to share your thoughts. Your feedback will help shape future versions of Pandora One. This is just the beginning.
Tom
CTO @ Pandora
PS: If you had previously subscribed to Pandora to avoid advertising, we’ve upgraded your account to Pandora One status for free. Welcome!

Tim answers Viewer Mail, #8

Wondering about live music showing up on your stations, eh? You’re not alone in that… here’s Pandora’s founder, Tim Westergren, answering a few questions about that topic:
IF I THUMB DOWN A SONG’S LIVE VERSION, CAN I STILL HEAR THE STUDIO VERSION?
CAN I ELIMINATE ALL LIVE MUSIC FROM MY STATION?
If you have any questions that you’d like to see Tim answer, then flip on your webcam, tell us your name and where you’re from, and then record yourself asking the question. Then, just send us that video file and we’ll do our best to answer your question on-camera.
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Here are some of the previous Viewer Mail videos: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

JJ’s country stations on Pandora

Meet JJ.
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JJ Schultz is one of our software engineers and a fine musician.
Yesterday I was listening to his great podcast on country music. It sucked me in, and I found myself wanting to know what kinds of Pandora stations JJ listened to.
I made my way over to his desk and asked him to share some of his country stations with me. He’s a swell guy, so he shared his two favorite country stations. I thought you might like to try them out as well:
Jukebox at the Ambrose, ND Bar
JJ says: “this one plays a lot of the country songs that I enjoyed as a kid when I used to plug the jukebox at my dad’s bar.”

Midnight to Moonlight Radio

JJ says: “this one is more the stuff that I listen to now. lots of old time country on this one.”
I hope you enjoy these country stations, and if you’d like to hear some of the music JJ has written and recorded, here you go: JJ Schultz Radio
(Feel free to check out his Pandora profile to see what else he listens to.)
If you’re interested in listening to more staff stations, check here, here, and here for past blog posts.
Enjoy!
:: Lucia

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 38

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“There are heroes in the seaweed…” – Leonard Cohen
One of the best things about being part of Pandora is knowing that we are, with the help of our listeners, tilling the musical soil, churning up music that for one reason or another may have gotten lost or buried at some point.
I love the idea that we are all keeping so many songs in circulation, and in that spirit, I thought I’d post a few artists that might be new to some of you, that you can explore as new starting points.
Sibylle Baier – I am loving this station based on the solo acoustic folk of this recently rediscovered recording. You’ll hear great lesser-knowns like the incredible Vashti Bunyan, and Ruthann Friedman and Bridget St. John, plus better known folkies like Nick Drake.
Sleep – Where would we be without metal? We wouldn’t be able to cook scrambled eggs, for one thing! So open your ears to the weirdly pillowy doom metal sounds of this station. It’s a good one. And hey – those of you who have never listened to metal – you know who you are – don’t glaze over – check this out :-).
Peanut Butter Wolf – I love the track Here’s a Smirk, and bet it would make a cool station. He got his name from a girlfriend’s kid brother, who dreamed up the peanut butter wolf as his deepest fear. At least something cool came from the poor guy’s nightmares!
Thomas NewmanRoad to Perdition Score – I’ve been into soundtrack music lately. It’s interesting how it is made to be secondary, while also being canny and amazingly precise in the reactions it evokes. Here’s a station made from one of my favorite pieces in this score.
DM StithFire of Birds – This is new music from the Asthmatic Kitty label, nice folks who put out some of the most interesting pop music of the day. This is orchestral and experimental folk that lives in that verdant valley between Mount Pleasantmusic and Mount Artsymusic. One of my favorite imaginary places.
Have a great weekend, and don’t forget Record Store Day tomorrow!
mz

Tim answers Viewer Mail, #7

You guys have a lot of questions for us, and here is Tim answering a few of those:
WHY DO YOU CONSIDER PANDORA TO BE RADIO?
CAN I LISTEN TO SONGS BY ONLY ONE ARTIST?
WHAT CAN I DO IF I HEAR A SONG TOO OFTEN?
If you have any questions that you’d like to see Tim answer, then flip on your webcam and record yourself asking the question. We would like to meet you, so please introduce yourself. Then, just send it on in and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.
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Here are some of the previous Viewer Mail videos: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Pandora for BlackBerry, now on App World

Two weeks ago we rather quietly rolled out our first BlackBerry applications and yesterday we completed the first phase of our rollout with the announcement of Pandora for BlackBerry App World.
Pandora for BlackBerry runs on a wide variety of handsets and carriers. At the moment we support the Curve (including the new 8900), Bold, Pearl, and 8800 on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. We’re still working on the Storm — the touchscreen UI presents a unique opportunity and we want to get the interactions just right. Stay tuned on that front.
You can install the Pandora application through the BlackBerry App World (which you may need to install on your phone — click here for details) or by simply visiting pandora.com from your BlackBerry web browser.
Pandora for BlackBerry delivers the full Pandora experience, in the palm of your hand. Listen to the stations you created on the web or make news ones right on your BlackBerry. Skip and rate songs just like on the web. It’s like a personal soundtrack for your life. Learn more here.

Lyrics, Variety, Gifts, and other Tweaks

We’ve been quietly rolling out a number of enhancements to Pandora.com the last few weeks and I thought I’d tell you a bit about them.
The biggest of the bunch is the launch of lyrics! This has been one of the most requested features for Pandora for as long as I can remember and the trick for us has always been to find a great provider of legal, fully licensed lyrics to share with you. Happy to say that we’ve found a great partner in Gracenote and last week we launched the first iteration of our lyric integration. To see the lyrics for the song you’re currently listening to just pull up the “about this music” panel underneath the player and select the lyrics tab. We’ll show you the first four lines of the song on the home page and you can click through to a second window that will show you the complete lyrics for the songs. Find a song that moves you? Click the share button to send them to a friend.
We’ve also been fiddling with the interface for adding more variety to your stations. Variety is a tricky subject when it comes to radio. We never want you to get bored with your stations, but a certain amount of repetition is welcome and expected. We’re constantly tweaking the core algorithm to impact station variety and we’re not done in that dimension. On the other hand, we’ve always had tools that allow you to expand the musical scope of a station by adding more song or artist “seeds” — but that interface has been largely hidden and only used by a small minority of our listeners. In a change that rolled out a few weeks ago we’ve added a “Add variety…” button to the player itself so that it’s easier to find and access. We’ve also updated the Add Variety panel to prompt you with a few ideas about artists you might want to add when you run out of your own ideas.
We also recently launched a “station gift” feature — this is your chance to make a kind of Pandora “mix tape” for a friend. Just visit www.pandora.com/station_gift, pick some favorite artists or songs, choose a design, and we’ll take care of the rest. Think of it as a musical e-card from Pandora.
One last tidbit you may have noticed is that we now support “bulk” purchase through both iTunes and Amazon MP3. Instead of buying songs one at a time, you can now use your Pandora bookmark list as a starting point for buying a whole bunch of music with just a single click. Click the “Buy All” button on your profile page to get started (and don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to review your song selections before the purchase actually goes through).
We’ve had a lot of fun building these new features and we hope you enjoy using them. As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas in the comments.

A fresh Pandora podcast: “The Art of Sampling”

v.e.r.a. cliqueFor the latest podcast in our ongoing audio series, “The Musicology Show,” we talk with two hip hop MCs and two beatmaking producers about the art of Sampling.
The MCs are Macsen Apollo and Anderson Ray from V.E.R.A. Clique, and the producers are Dan Craig and Johnny Igaz. Craig is a software-sampling maven who imports audio directly from old LPs; Igaz uses a hardware sampler for his production work with Ill Mondo. All four bring interesting perspectives to the controversial and rich subject of sample-based music, and Craig breaks apart one of his productions to show how he layered the snares and manipulated the source material to make the beats snap.
This episode was recorded and cut by the great Tyler Brown at Bellboy Recording in Richmond CA.
For other episodes of “The Musicology Show,” check out the subject pages: Instruments, Rhythm, Composition, Singing and Styles.

The Art of Sampling :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 42

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V.E.R.A. Clique
The three members of hip hop group V.E.R.A. Clique, one producer/beatmaker (Dan Craig) and two MCs (Anderson Ray and Macsen Apollo) join producer/beatmaker Johnny Igaz to talk about sampling. We look at hardware vs. software sampling, hear how different drum tones are layered to make for fuller hits, and dissect a sampled production. Craig and Igaz both work here at Pandora as well. (11 mins.)

That link above is to V.E.R.A. Clique’s site, but this one is to their Pandora artist profile.