It’s true: while you’re listening to music on Pandora, we’re listening to what you have to say about Pandora.
Pictured above are most of the people who answer your email when you write to Pandora. No robots in sight!
We like to keep in touch with our listeners. It’s been a pleasure for us to meet so many thousands of you, virtually and in person.
We want to know what works well for you on Pandora, and what doesn’t work for you. We answer your questions the best we can and your suggestions directly affect our priorities in terms of what features to add and what music to collect. Indeed, many of our added features and songs over the years have come from your feedback.
We’ve always responded personally to every email we receive and we read every comment you leave on our blog. Thank you for all of your insightful commentary. We especially love the personal stories you tell us about music and your use of Pandora, and I’ll share a few stories next time I post here. (If you’re one of the many people who has asked Pandora to marry you or “run away” with you, don’t worry, I won’t out you.)
It’s really easy to get support from us: you just write us an email, and we write back. No automatic reply from “no-reply,” no ‘thank you for your email, here’s your tracking number.’ Just one human communicating with another.
As always, you can suggest music at suggest-music [at] pandora.com.
You can suggest features, get tech support and ask questions at pandora-support [at] pandora.com.
Whether your feedback is about the music, your “playlist,” the advertisements or the web site itself, you can rest assured that we’re sharing your feedback with the people who can do something about it. Pandora’s music analysts, music buyers, engineering team and ad team are only a few steps away from our desks.
Besides email and this blog, here’s a few more places you can find us:
We’re on Twitter: we answer your questions, note your feedback, and post tips and announcements.
We post photos on Flickr.
We have profile pages at MySpace and Facebook. (The Pandora Facebook application is here.)
And of course, we continue to tour the country meeting with you in person.
We love music and our mission is to guide you to music you love. And while you’re listening, we’re behind the scenes making Pandora the best it can be.
We thank you for your generous feedback over the last 2 1/2 years.
Lucia, and the whole communication team
Our guest this week is Chris Horgan, the captain of Pandora’s Dance Music Genome. He’s a rhythmatist, and the subject this week is time changes — specifically, abrupt changes in BPM that use a beat subdivision to pivot to the new tempo. That’s called “Metric Modulation,” and it can be a startlingly effective way for a full band to jump immediately into a new feel, without the potentially awkward process of speeding up or slowing down.
p.s.: To subscribe to all of these free audio shows: Pandora.com/podcast.
As usual, your comments astonish me. And even though I admit that it’s a bit odd to be asking music listeners the kinds of questions that music makers ask themselves, I stand by the effort, since who knows, some of you might discover a whole new band or even a world of music that had previously been difficult for you to get into. Mainly though, it’s just profoundly surprising and fascinating for me to learn more about how you all experience music. So thank you all for that!
In any case, Glenn Gould made an analogy that pertains here. Paraphrasing Gould: it’s not necessary for me to know exactly how my car works in order for me to feel that it’s either tuned up fairly well or that it needs some work. Similarly, music listeners don’t need expert knowledge (of the architecture of music or the critical perspectives of the kind that musicians use) in order to determine whether they like something or not.
The fact that musicians need that expertise (and mechanics do, too) doesn’t mean that such expertise is at all relevant to listeners.
Ok, so I’m wondering what y’all think about that. Specifically, though, I’m interested in the exceptions to the rule: what expertise do you have about music that benefits you as a listener? And in a tangential request, what music do you think the rest of us really ought to be exposed to, that you think we might not have been?
And lastly, if you have those kinds of expert suggestions, doesn’t that imply that you, too, have your own critical radar?
Play on, playas.
Details to be announced soon!
When: Tuesday, May 12th, 2008
<img alt="twitter.JPG" src="http://blog.pandora.com/pandora/archives/twitter.JPG" width="214" height="128"
If you use Twitter, follow Pandora’s twitter stream for quick tips, answers, and fun!
It’s just one more way to have a dialog with us and keep up with all things Pandora.
And if you don’t know what Twitter is, see here.
A couple more verbal answers to commonly asked questions. This week’s topics:
HOW DO WE FIND OUR MUSIC (and how can you suggest music for us to add)?
HOW DOES PANDORA ANALYZE MUSIC?
Please feel free to post any questions you’d like elaborated… we’re all ears!
Cheers. Tim (Founder)
We have a bevy of new episodes up, and we’d love to hear what you think of them. Also, if you have questions for the guests, ask away and we will retrieve answers for you.
- The Musicology Show: Building A Song From The Ground Up. Pandora music analyst Scott Pinkmountain takes his song, “You Gave Me This,” and disassembles it for us. He reverse-engineers the track to show how he built it, piece by piece. Pianos prepared with tissue boxes, stiffly swinging drums, and orchestrons await.
- Music 101: Singing In Harmony. In this video episode, Greg Giles and Kelly Atkins from 20 Minute Loop look at vocal harmony, and the myriad ways two singers can harmonize a line: tutti, contrary motion, call and response, counterpoint and more. We also discuss the well-known artists who use these harmonizing styles.
- The Musicology Show: Strings. Violinist Alan L. Lin and cellist Yair Evnine show how they get their sounds, play some brilliant excerpts from great classical works, and talk shop. Now that Pandora features classical music, we’re going to spend more time looking at orchestral instruments, and this is our first foray.
- Great Venues: South by Southwest, Part 3. In the final episode of our SxSW trilogy, performers from Lovelikefire, Mud, Elephone and Minipop extol the virtues of a festival in which musicians can enjoy the company of other bands. It’s a love fest, as they prefer to see other groups as peers rather than as competitors.
Many interesting comments from my last post – I had no idea so many people might find the Beatles to be underwhelming, but there you have it…!
Last week I watched several of Radiohead’s recent webcast performances, and one of the covers they did was The Smiths’ The Headmaster Ritual. I loved that song when I was younger, and hadn’t listened to it in quite a while; and seeing Radiohead’s cover reminded me of how much I like the song.
Then when I investigated it a bit more, I realized that not only do I still like the song a lot, but I also believe it is actually quite a good piece of recording and writing, considered from general artistic and aesthetic perspectives.
Musically, it’s an interesting song which contrasts a dissonant opening chord progression with a loping, chiming guitar and bass riff, and which overall has a kind of shimmering power. It’s a diatribe against the abusive effects of British boarding schools, with lyrics like “belligerent ghouls run manchester schools / spineless swine, cemented minds / sir leads the troops, jealous of youth / same old suit since 1962,” and images like “bruises bigger than dinner plates.”
Listening to it again, I started to think about all the music I listened to when I was a kid, and how cool it is is when that music, which is so important and remains so vivid for so many years afterwards, also turns out also to be really interesting and, yes, good.
What music did you have in your formative record collection or did you hear on the radio when you were younger, which you not only loved, but which you think also turned out to be good, very good, or even great? And for bonus points, can you describe how and why you assess the music in that way?
I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of learning of an important, definitive artist or record, then listening to the music and either not liking it, or not understanding what all the fuss is about.
What I’m curious about this week is how you listeners would describe or explain that experience.
Can you name some music that you both know is good but also that you just don’t like? Can you describe how you know it’s good? How can you hear the “good-ness” of the music, even though you don’t like it?
I always think of this when I hear people say they don’t like a certain genre of music, because almost every genre must have some artists that are good, right? Separating my personal taste from evaluations of the quality of music is a great challenge, but it can have great rewards. I’m very curious to hear how you all think of it!
Have you heard that sales of vinyl records are way up these days, and that last week Elvis Costello announced plans to release his upcoming record on vinyl only, with a coupon for a free download of the release with purchase?
No this isn’t going to be another post about how deeelicious vinyl is. But these trends seem to be related to something I’ve been hearing and thinking a lot about lately, which is the effort to reinstate a “rich experience” for music listeners.
In terms of vinyl’s resurgence, people say that vinyl record has gravitas and its own odd beauty, and it requires an attentiveness that confers a specialness to the music and to the act of listening; and beyond vinyl’s popularity, many artists and labels are seeking ways to offer real rich experiences to their fans.
They do this in many ways, like sharing more video from tours and backstage or by asking fans to help them create artwork for album covers or videos. What these things seem to have in common is that they are attempts to establish deeper connections to the band or artist’s community.
Given all that, I’m wondering some things: does a rich experience matter to you, either in terms of enjoying vinyl or CD album art or videos, or in terms of finding a way to interact with a band you like in some new way? Do you seek out or remember those kinds of experiences? Have any unusual opportunities to meet or interact with your favorite artists or music really added to your experience of the music, or otherwise been cool?
And I’m especially curious to know the following: if you could ask your favorite artists or bands for your ideal rich experience of their music, what would it be?