Pandora

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

On the One ———- big changes/small steps ———- Vol. 1

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Over the last year and a half substantial changes were made to the Pandora listening experience. While we’re constantly improving the playlist algorithm, analyzing new music, etc., it’s rare for Pandora to make such a huge change to the music genome as was completed on our Electronic Music genome. In the last 18 months, not only did we greatly expand the size and quality of our electronic catalog, but we also upgraded the analysis process — reanalyzing over 42,000 tracks along the way.
The analysis upgrade consisted of three steps. The first was enabling the music genome to more accurately catalog the subtleties and compositional techniques of Electronic Music. We did this by recognizing new genes ranging from arpeggiated synthesizers to build-ups and breakdowns. With these new genes in hand there was a nasty problem: none of our previously analyzed tracks contained data for them. The only solution was to go back and reanalyze them. Yes, all 42,000 of them!
This second step in the upgrade process involved a team of music analysts working for over three months. If the average track length was four minutes, that’s over 2,700 hours of music reanalyzed!!! Yes, our ears and brains were quite sore when all was said and done, but we haven’t stopped. Our Electronic Music collection currently contains over 66,000 analyzed tracks.
Anyway, the third and final step in the upgrade was making sense of this new data by adjusting the importance of each gene and how it interacts with its neighbors. This process can best be described as taste testing. We had the basic formula down, but to achieve that seemingly elusive, most delicious blend, took many late nights and countless tweaks. A little heavier on the synth effects and a tad less vocal vibrato, a pinch more harmony and a touch less backbeat…
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With the Dance Genome now having more dexterity to analyze the electronic soundscape, and the ability to generate more specialized playlists, it was time to populate our collection. The primary aim here was to get a good sampling of everything being spun by DJs in clubs, bumped at backyard BBQs, played in retail locations, or geeked out on headphones — the whole spectrum of Electronic music. With the DJ/Electronic music boutiques and music megastores having migrated to the Internet, to places such as iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Traxsource, Juno, Stompy, Turntable Lab, DJ Hut (to name just a few… the list could go on), this process was actually quite efficient (and enjoyable!). In our effort to maintain a collection that is deep and diverse, the digital only online boutiques have been essential. Once hard-to-find singles, remixes, unmixed DJ-friendly compilations, instrumental versions of Hip Hop albums, and out of print classics are a few clicks away. Although, at times, I do miss the good ole days of waking up at noon and thumbing through massive stacks of records at Amoeba, Housewares, Primal, or Tweekin’ for a small stack of nuggets… that’s a topic for another time.
Today we are pleased to introduce some fruits of this labor, a new lineup of Electronic/Dance genre stations. They are as follows:
Club/Dance
House
Deep House
Progressive/Electro House
Techno
Minimal Techno
Trance
Psy-trance
Hard Dance
Drum & Bass
Liquid Drum & Bass
Dubstep
Funky Breaks
Progressive Breaks
Downtempo
Deep Beats
Trip Hop
Global Chill
Turntablism & Beat Science
Indie Dance/Electro
Bmore, Bass & Baile
Electronica/IDM
Experimental Electronica
Ambient
We hope you enjoy listening to these stations as much as we enjoyed curating them. Over the next few months we’ll be making adjustments and fine tuning them a bit. So if you have any feedback, now is the time. Whether it’s on a particular genre station or one of your own stations, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.
Chris Horgan [senior music analyst]
Michael Addicott [dance collection manager]
BTW — This happens to be the first post in a new blog series on Pandora — On the One. Headed by our dynamic duo of Mike Addicott and Chris Horgan, On the One focuses on the worlds of Dance, Electronic, and Rap music. You can expect posts ranging from the newest rhythms and production styles to musical roots and discussions of underground classics. Let the music play!
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Pre-production :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 45

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Listen Now
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V.E.R.A. Clique
As the one-man band of Palefighter, Matthew Carano has learned a lot about how to streamline the recording process, and how to use pre-production to his benefit. In this show, we’ll focus on sketching and recording demos, and how to sculpt a song as it goes through its various incarnations and drafts.

Recorded and edited by Tyler Brown at Bellboy Recording in Richmond CA. (10 mins.)

Third Annual Poster Contest

blog-post.jpgCalling all artists, designers, and art lovers! I’m very pleased to announce the third annual Pandora Poster Contest, sponsored this year by Levi’s.

For the past two years we have asked you, our talented listeners, to design a poster about Pandora. The results have been amazing. Each year, we choose three poster designs to print in limited editions. These posters are given as gifts to donors to our GlobalGiving philanthropy projects.

Now it’s time to to do it again.

The task is the still same: create a poster about Pandora. The rest is up to your imagination. Feel free to explore themes of music, technology, philanthropy, music education, or whatever moves your muse. One thing we ask is that you don’t redesign our logo. In addition to sharing your creative imagination, you will be helping us to support youth music education around the world.

We plan to announce three winners again this year: Grand Prize, Runner Up, and Editor’s Choice. The Grand Prize winner will receive $500, the Runner Up will receive $250, and the Editor’s Choice winner will receive $500. All three will also include some great publicity on our blog.

We’re eager to see where your creativity takes us this year!

Enter a poster now!

Dan
Creative Director

2008 Winners:

Grand Prize Winner

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Artist: Rebecca Zaharia

Runner-up

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Artist: Hadley Rouse

Editor’s Choice

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Artist: Mandy Gordon

2007 Winners:

Grand Prize Winner

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Artist: Charles Badua

1st Runner-up

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Artist: Dora Radut

2nd Runner-up

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Artist: Andy Yamashiro

Enter or vote now
Poster specs

Viewer Mail – How Do I Get More Variety On My Stations?

We get asked these questions often: How can my stations have more variety? My station plays the same songs — how can I expand the repertoire?
The video below answers that, as well as this one: How can I hear the maximum number of songs by one artist?
If you have any questions that you’d like to have answered, just flip on your webcam or other video camera, tell us your name and where you’re from, and then record yourself asking the question. Then, send us that video file and we’ll do our best to answer your question on-camera.
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Embed this video:

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For questions answered elsewhere please check our FAQ, but also please explore: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
We’re also pleased to announced our new Pandora channel on YouTube. Subscriptions are free; just click on the yellow button in the left nav once you get there.

Famous Rock Drummers :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 44

Jeff AnthonyPremiering today is “Famous Rock Drummers,” in which Jeff Anthony (pictured) reverse-engineers the signature sounds of John Bonham, Neil Peart, Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Grohl.
As always, it’s free to subscribe to “The Musicology Show” in iTunes or in any other feedcatcher (Google Reader, Juice, etc.)
Just scroll down on the main podcast page to hear those 40+ earlier episodes, or jump straight to the category pages on Composition, Styles, Singing, Instruments and Rhythm.

Room Acoustics :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 43

Melody ParkerWe’re happy to announce new episodes of “The Musicology Show,” our long-running audio podcast about the nuts and bolts of music making.
Today, we bring you “Room Acoustics,” on the way architecture and setting have influenced classical composers — and vice-versa — for the past 600 years. Our guest is acoustician Melody Parker (pictured at left).
As always, it’s free to subscribe to “The Musicology Show” in iTunes or in any other feedcatcher (Google Reader, Juice, etc.)
Just scroll down on the main podcast page to hear those 40+ earlier episodes, or jump straight to the category pages on Composition, Styles, Singing, Instruments and Rhythm.

Pandora for BlackBerry — Now in Stereo

I’m happy to announce that we’ve just released the latest version of Pandora for BlackBerry. This version has a bunch of cool new features but I think the one that many people have been anxiously waiting for is improved audio quality. While we have had stereo AAC+ over Wi-Fi for a while, our BlackBerry mobile stream has been constrained to mono AAC – until now!
We’ve just switched the BlackBerry mobile streams over to stereo AAC+ in our servers. If you are using an older Pandora client (1.0.3 or earlier) then you’re now hearing an AAC+ stereo stream. Once you upgrade to 1.1, you will have access to a new “High” quality AAC+ stereo stream in addition to the “Normal” stereo stream (in case your mobile connection isn’t fast enough to keep up with the high quality stream).
Point your BlackBerry browser to http://www.pandora.com to download and install the app. It should be available on App World within the next day or so.
Here are the full release notes for 1.1. As usual, if you have any problems please feel free to leave a comment here or email our support team at pandora-support@pandora.com
New Features

  • Significantly better audio quality over mobile network – now using stereo AAC+ (HE-AAC) for both Wi-Fi and mobile connections
  • Listener preference option to select “High” quality stream over mobile network or “Normal” for slower connections. Both are stereo.
  • Create Station screen now has auto-complete functionality as you type
  • Added user preference option to enable or disable station auto-start
  • Moved “Log Out” from main menu into Options screen, it now shows the currently logged-in username
  • Visual overlay when changing volume; easier to see actual volume level
  • Application will check for correct application permissions on startup, and offer to set them to appropriate values if required
  • You can now get to the “Options” screen from the menus of both the Station List screen and the
    Now Playing screen

  • Reduced download size of app by about 30-40%

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed stream resume problem on some Storm devices after being interrupted by a system alert (phone call, SMS, email, etc)
  • Fixed bug where Wi-Fi capable devices without a SIM card or data plan were not able to use Pandora over Wi-Fi
  • Fixed reports of “low volume” settings not being low enough – the lower volume settings now go as quiet as possible before being muted
  • Fixed bug where album art may not have been displayed for some tracks
  • Mute button should now properly sleep the device when holding it down

Washington DC Town Hall – July 23rd!

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Over a year after we had to cancel our last planned town hall in nation’s capital, we’re finally back on the calendar.
Getting together at the Jewish Community Center, one of those distinctly grand old buildings in downtown DC – 16th Street. Hope you can meet me there for an informal discussion about all things Pandora. SOOO much to talk about !!
Details:
When: Thursday, July 23rd
Time: 7pm
Where: 529 16th St NW, Washington, DC
Website: Jewish Community Center

Important update on royalties

For more than two years now I have been eagerly anticipating the day when I could finally write these words: the royalty crisis is over!
Webcasters, artists, and record labels have reached a resolution to the calamitous Internet radio royalty ruling of 2007. Pandora is finally on safe ground with a long-term agreement for survivable royalty rates. This ensures that Pandora will continue streaming music for many years to come!
Many people played a role in getting here. Pandora listeners provided support in extraordinary numbers in Congress, and a group of reasonable and constructive voices on the label and artist side of the table (groups like A2iM) helped forge a middle ground that, while perhaps not meeting all of our aspirations, still represents a thoughtful and reasoned outcome under the circumstances.
For this we are truly thankful and want to express our deepest gratitude to everyone involved.
The revised royalties are quite high – higher in fact than any other form of radio. As a consequence, we will have to make an adjustment that will affect about 10% of our users who are our heaviest listeners. Specifically, we are going to begin limiting listening to 40 hours per month on the free version of Pandora. In any given month, a listener who hits this limit can then opt for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month for just $0.99. In essence, we’re asking our heaviest users to put a dollar (well, almost a dollar) in the tip jar in any month in which they listen over 40 hours. We hope this is relatively painless and affordable–the same price as a single song download. (Alternatively, they can upgrade to “Pandora One”, our premium version which offers unlimited monthly listening in addition to its other benefits).
We hate the idea of limiting anyone’s listening, but we have no choice but to react the economic realities of the new rates.
There continues to be royalty-related activity in Washington DC. On the heels of the above resolution, there is a new effort in Congress to fix the broader issue of how musical artists are compensated across all forms of radio. The system as it stands today remains fundamentally unfair both to Internet radio services like Pandora, which pay higher royalties than other forms of radio, and to musical artists, who receive no compensation at all when their music is played on AM/FM radio. We, along with the artists whose music we play, strongly support the establishment of a level playing field, a truly fair system, as articulated in a new bill called the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848).
It has been an extraordinary couple of years. Believe me, I never thought I’d be donning a suit and tie to walk the halls of Congress lobbying for a bill. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. It is incredibly exciting for everyone at Pandora to see the vision for the company truly beginning to take shape. We are all looking ahead with renewed vigor to the future.
Cheers.
Tim (Founder)

Richmond Town Hall – Monday, June 29th

leeI’m coming to Richmond, VA next week for a Pandora Town Hall on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Here’s the info:
Where: the Grace Street Theater on the VCU Campus in Richmond
When: Monday, June 29th, 2009 @ 7:00 PM
Where: Grace Street Theater — VCU campus
934 West Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia
Here’s more info about the location.
Look forward to meeting some local Pandora listeners. Will share history and latest news of Pandora – would love to hear what’s on your mind. There will be some cool swag too!
See you there.
Cheers. Tim (Founder)