Pandora

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

No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 7

Hi folks!
It’s Friday afternoon in California, and I submit to the general public another list of songs that are flying far and wide under the big endless sky that is recorded music.
Go here to see what I featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, and Volume 6.
This week’s picks:
La Negra Tomasa by Compay Segundo. This legendary Cuban guitarist is still making records 99 years after his birth, and they’re more vital and authoritative than most records made by artists who are 1/4th his age. He’s an alumnus of the Buena Vista Social Club sessions, so any fans of that will dig this, but he’s been active since the 20’s. This is a new record, and I chose a traditional song accompanied by a clarinet section, among other delicacies. Been listening to lots of Latin music lately as we build the catalog and I try to keep up. Everyone should hear this for sure!

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I’m currently planning an itinerary for my next tour stop in New York for summer 2006. We had a great time in New York back in May and again in June, so we’ll definitely be back again soon. I’ll be stopping in the city for the CMJ conference at the end of October. Lecturing later that week at NYU to the next generation of digital music entrepreneurs – should be great fun. New York always has something new to offer every time. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any suggestions about a meetup. I can’t wait to come back!
We love reading and responding to your feedback on the blog – the comments have been a treasure trove of great insights and guidance as we plan our visits. If you have a particular idea you want to discuss, or just want to get more involved, we’re eager for help – just drop us an email at tour@pandora.com. Please include your location in the subject line of your message too. No idea is too big or small!

Pandora: the many educational uses!

As I have mentioned, a fascinating part of working at Pandora is hearing about the wild variety of people who use Pandora in such a variety of different ways. Many people have written to us to tell us that they use Pandora in classrooms of all types…from kindergartners to grad students.
One teacher in Hawaii taught her young students about music appreciation by using Pandora. She required that they each make their own stations and get to know a little bit about their musical tastes. She wrote to us to say how well it was going, and that some of her students routinely stayed in from recess so that they could listen to Pandora.
Another teacher mentioned that he teaches at-risk kids. He wrote to us to tell us how helpful Pandora has been for him. He makes custom Pandora stations that are mellow and promote calm and he plays them during class to improve behavior and learning in his students.

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New York Meetup

We’re coming to New York City next week. I’d like to meet Pandora listeners to talk about the service and more generally about the future of online music…
When: Monday, June 5th, 2006 – 7pm
Where: Tribeca Film Center (The Screening Room)
375 Greenwich (bet. North Moore & Franklin Directions
This is a FREE event. Seating is limited, so if you’d like to attend, please RSVP to timinny@pandora.com
Should be a fun evening. Hope to see you there! Tim (Founder)

The Pandora Servers are Moving

On Friday, May 26th at 7PM Pacific Time we’ll be moving the servers that power Pandora from one datacenter to another. Pandora’s new home will give us additional room and capacity for scaling up the service as more and more people stop by to listen. The move should take us 8-10 hours.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, we’ll be up and broadcasting throughout the move, but you’ll not be able to create new stations, give us feedback on songs, or edit your account in any way. Pandora will be in this state until early in the morning on Saturday May 27th at which point we expect things to be back to normal. Thanks in advance for your patience.
Update 7:34PM: We’ve started the move. Cross your fingers for us :-)
Update 9:15PM: The first of the servers are racked up in their new home.
Update 9:36PM: We’ve just updated our DNS so some traffic is now making its way to the new datacenter! So far so good.
Update 10:38PM: All traffic is now being routed to our new datacenter. We still have lots of hardware to move, but things continue to go well. We’ll be in “read only” mode for a few more hours. Thanks again for your patience with us as we work through this.
Update 11:50PM: Our databases have made the move and we’re able to take your “thumb” feedback and account changes again. You should also be able to create new accounts and stations. There’s still a fair bit of hardware to move, but with some luck, the rest of the operation will be invisible to you.
Completed! 3:45AM: All our servers are now tucked happily into their new home and are serving traffic. Thanks to the truly remarkably team here everything went absolutely perfectly. Thanks again for your patience with us tonight. We’re excited to be in our new home.

No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 6

Welcome to another list of Friday finds that are:
1. worth listening to
2. probably not being featured elsewhere at the moment
3. would be mainstream if there were such a thing…
Go here to see the great stuff featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, and Volume 5.
First off this week:
The Empty Boat by Caetano Veloso. I looked for this record for a few years and finally found a copy. I love Caetano Veloso, and had heard that this record, which he recorded in prison (the backing tracks were added later) is early work that’s partly in English. This particular song is mesmerizing and sad, repetitive and dark, with an ostinato acoustic guitar riff embellished with all kinds of minimal and subtle reeds, percussion sounds, and the like. It expands into more of a classic early 70’s fuzz guitar freakout. Contains the line: “My hand is empty from the wrist to the nail….”

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Seattle ‘Town Hall’ Meeting at the EMP May 31st, 2006

Come join me for an informal get together in Seattle next Wednesday, May 31st. I’d like to meet local Pandora listeners to have a conversation about the service and more generally about the future of online music…
EMP photo.jpg
When: Wednesday, May 31st, 2006 – 7pm
Where: JBL Theatre at EMP (Experience Music Project)
325 5th Avenue North at the Seattle Center Directions
This is a FREE event. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to tim.westergren@pandora.com
Guests are welcome, but please provide names as we’ll have a guest list. Seating is limited.
Should be a fun evening. Hope to see you there! Tim (Founder)

No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 5

Hello and welcome to Volume 5 of “No Mainstream Fridays,” my weekly listing of songs that are:
1. worth listening to
2. probably not being featured elsewhere at the moment
3. would be mainstream if there were such a thing…
Go here to see the great stuff featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4.
Ezra Pound said “poetry is news that stays news.” So is music, and in that spirit, here are some songs and bands from past and present that merit headlines…
This week’s news:
Hoover Factory by Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Somehow, amidst all the others, Elvis C has sort of been my center of the wheel, and this 1:46 song was (and maybe still is) my favorite choice gem of them all. When I was in my early teens, this song fascinated me endlessly. It sounds faster to me now than it did then (how trite and symbolic!) A slice of b-side heaven for everyone….

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Your Favorites……and your research guide

As we’ve discussed, when you thumbs up a song, that act changes the station you’re listening to. Your Favorites, however, is a place to “bookmark” songs so that you can keep track of them for later. This will not change your stations one bit; it only keeps a list of songs so you don’t have to write down song or artist names on (gasp) paper. These two features are complementary, but distinct.
Favoriting a song (do this by clicking on the album art) will not alter your station, and thumbs upping a song will alter your station, but it will not keep a handy, printable list for you. Sometimes, you may want to thumbs up and favorite a song. That way you can mold your station while keeping track of the song for later reference. Whee, we’re geekin’ now!
“Favorites” is kind of a misnomer for me. These songs aren’t necessarily my favorites; I use it as more of a To-Research List. I add songs to my Favorites list when I like the song, sure. I’ve got five pages of Oh Wow, This Is A Great Song. But I also add songs to my Favorites page because I’m busy when the song comes on, and I really just want to research it later.

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Care and feeding of your stations

Two comments we get now and again here at Pandora headquarters are these:
1. My station is too boring; it doesn’t play enough variety
2. My station is too varied; it plays too many different styles
I am here to tell you that these issues are fairly easy to remedy.
1. For more variety on your stations, add more music!
Click on either ‘Guide Us’ [for the station you’re currently listening to] or on the triangle next to the station name in the left-hand menu [for any station, any time] and choose to ‘Add more music.’
2. For more tightly controlled stations that don’t stray too much, don’t add too many artists, songs, or thumbs ups; every time you add more music your station reaches out in another direction. Me, I like that. You, you may not.
Personally, I’ve got both kinds of stations. Some are vanilla and some are seasoned beyond recognition. The “purer” stations have hardly any station seeds and only a few, if any, thumbs ups. On these “pure” stations I hear some of the same songs repeated over a few days of listening, and I get a more controlled station that actually sticks to a specific style of music. My wildest station, and my favorite, Radio Lucia, has maybe sixty seeds and oodles of individual thumb opinions. It represents decades of musical styles, and many many hours of listening and tinkering on my part. I get lots of surprises. I rarely hear the same song twice, even with weeks of listening.

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