Pandora

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

No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 3

Welcome to Volume 3 of “No Mainstream Fridays.” For the uninitiated, NMF is a 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 Volume 1 and Volume 2.
ok, I picked a baker’s dozen this week, and so without further ado, the nominees are:
Imogen Heap -Hide and Seek – one of those fascinating and frighteningly catchy pop songs… for everyone who thinks autotune and noise gating are cheating, check this out.
Tyrannosaurus Rex -She Was Born To Be My Unicorn – oh, how I love Tyrannosaurus Rex. this song is full of weird magic.

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We’re coming back to New York City on May 15th and 16th, 2006. We’re planning a gathering on the evening of the 16th. Please leave any comments or suggestions here – always looking for fun music-related things to do and hear. So much to do in the big apple, and so little time! We’ll post details on the get together as soon as we have more specifics. Really looking forward to this visit.

Welcome to the Music Genome Project

We’ve learned a lot during Pandora’s first 6 months and, candidly, one of those lessons is that purely “musical” matches don’t get it right 100% of the time. While we work hard 7 days a week to get it there, if you’ve listened to Pandora for any length of time you know that the Music Genome is not perfect. The great thing though is that when we’re wrong, you tell us with your “thumb” feedback.
So starting tonight, we’re making you part of the Music Genome Team.
We’ve just given Pandora’s playlist system a big upgrade so that now when our listeners as a group overwhelmingly tell us that a song is a terrible fit for a particular station, we listen and everyone listening to that station benefits from the feedback.
For example, since you’ve clearly told us that “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston doesn’t make sense as a match for Massive Attack, we’re not going to play that song on anyone’s “Massive Attack Radio” anymore*.
Incorporating your feedback and input in compelling ways is a major priority for us, and it won’t stop at playlist improvement. We’re cooking up lots of ways to bring your collective wisdom and knowledge to bear at Pandora in lots of interesting ways.
Welcome to the team!
Tom
CTO @ Pandora
* In reality it’s a tiny bit more subtle than that — what we actually do in a case like this is radically reduce the play frequency of “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” on the Massive Attack station. That way there’s some room for the song to come back into more frequent rotation if the listeners as a whole or individually change their mind about the song at some point in the future.

Clarksdale

The first guitar was called ‘wire on the wall’ . Workers on the southern plantations took the wire from worn out mops, and strung them between two nails pounded into the wall. They used rocks wedged on either end as bridges to tighten the wire enough. Then someone decided to pull the board off the wall and lay it on their lap, using bottles as slides. This was called a diddley bow. Flip those words and now you know where Bo Diddley got his name… So much history down here…home of the famed ‘crossroads’ where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in return for mastery of the blues guitar…
Crossroads.jpg

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No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 2

Ah, another Friday has come, which means it’s time for me to post some more choice alternatives to the usual….
For everyone’s info, the song links below go to Pandora song-info pages, where you can hear a sample clip of the song, and see artist info. There are station creation links from the song pages, as well, so you can easily create a Pandora station based on the song. How cool! And as usual, the artist names go directly to Pandora stations based on that artist’s music.
This week’s list is, as always, off the cuff, unpremeditated, and UNUSUAL!
Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra * Bollywood – I love this track! bliss out to bollywood-based, extra-groovy electronica, with tablas, sitar, synths, and much swirl….
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Memphis

Well, I didn’t make it to Graceland, but there was lots more to see. I’ll just have to go back. There’s a certain aura about Memphis – music history so rich you really feel it in the air. Across the street from my first stopoff (Stax Museum) was an old church where Rev. Herbert Brewster used to pen songs for the legendary Mahalia Jackson. He wrote them on the cardboard inserts for laundered shirts, that parishioners delivered to him every Sunday…
ChurchInterior.jpg

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Hattiesburg

Wound my way up to Hattiesburg, home of the University of Southern Mississippi and little known fact, home to the world’s first rock recording. Anyone know what it is? Had a nice lunch and chat with John Smith – longtime band manager and mainstay of the Hattiesburg music scene. Popped our heads in on his latest project, Friday Night Gigolos who were working on the finishing touches to their CD. Familiar vibe of the studio…”let’s isolate the kick and bass guitar…”
John riffed on what is fast becoming a familiar theme – organic growth of bands. Worked with 2LiveCrew, Afroman…

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Pandora at BayCHI Tonight

If you live in the bay area and are interested in learning more about Pandora’s approach to user experience and playlist creation stop by tonight’s 7:30PM BayCHI meeting:

http://www.baychi.org/program/
Several exciting developments in social search and personalization help users find information: recommendations based on personal tastes, social trends, tags, ratings, popularity, and friends tastes. These methods go beyond the classic search paradigm of relevance and flat lists of results, resulting in different user experience challenges. This panel brings together panelists from Netflix, Live365, Pandora, and digg to explore trends in social search.

Rashmi Sinha has put together a great lineup for the panel including Neil Hunt from Netflix, David Porter from Live365, Kevin Rose from Digg, and Joshua Schachter from del.icio.us. I’m really looking forward to meeting all of these people; I’m a big fan of their work. Hope to see you there.

Biloxi

Arrived in Biloxi after a drive through the windblown, woodsy/marshy Hwy 10. Evidence everywhere of the storms. Fallen lamposts, litter, even still some abandoned cars that are gradually getting cleared away.
First stop was the Government Street Grocery cafe in Ocean Springs, a quaint little town that was spared the flood because it sits on higher ground. After a nice evening chatting with local musicians/fans, and a beautiful sunset, I headed out with my guide, Justin Hooks, the entertainment editor for the Sun Herald for a tour of the local music scene. (Justin thanks for everything).
Deltasunset.jpg
We wound up out in the woods several miles off the main highway at a storage shed that has been adopted as the rehearsal space for a bunch of local bands…

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