The Pandora Team

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 9: Pandora @ SXSW 2007

Well it’s Tuesday, and I’m just back from the giant gathering of the musical and music industry tribes. Before the memories (hazy as they already are) fade completely, I have to mention a few of the high points:
boris – picture a covered outdoor stage in an alley behind a row of clubs, a few trees guarding the entrance, beyond which you find a sea of rapt listeners who are themselves enveloped in a stunningly loud and oddly peaceful ocean of droney, psychedelic metal. This was the one band I saw the whole week that seemed truly mysterious and legendary, otherwordly and almost godlike. In the infernal din that covers Austin all week, this band was louder, more unified, and more transforming that anything else I saw. It was so good that I purposefully skipped going to see them the next day, for fear of spoiling a perfect musical memory.

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More on the Copyright Ruling

A huge thank you to everyone who has been so supportive over the past week as we’ve been hit by the stunning ruling on webcast rates. It’s very heartening for us to see how much people care about this, and how willing listeners are to pitch in. And how many of you there are!!
There has been an enormous groundswell of opposition to this decision, and we’ve been hard at work on how to best channel the energy in the right direction. Because the webcasting community does not have an entrenched and powerful lobbying presence in DC, grassroots legislative pressure – constituents contacting their representatives – is clearly our biggest ally.
Internet radio is hostage to a blatantly discriminatory double standard that was written into the federal statute governing webcasting several years ago, following an intensive lobbying effort by the RIAA. We need to redress this, and create a more level playing field – one that of course rewards musicians for their work (I spent years in a band van myself and have always been driven by a desire to lift up musicians), and one that also understands the business realities, and benefits of online radio.
While we figure this out, below are a few of the more informative write ups we’ve seen in the past week. We also suggest that you visit and sign this petition put together by a collection of webcasters.
Doc Searls Blog
Jason Fry article in Wall Street Journal
LA Times Editorial
Thanks again for your support.
Tim (Founder)

RIAA’s new royalty rates will kill online radio!!

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has recently released a revised fee schedule for internet radio. Left unchanged, these rates will end internet radio, period. The RIAA has effectively convinced this federal committee to establish rates that make online radio a non-viable business.
It’s an utterly ridiculous ruling that renders any form of internet radio non-economic. We are continuing in the belief that sanity will return as everyone involved, including the 50 million avid online radio listeners, realize just how outrageous this is.
You can probably tell by this post that I feel strongly about this. Online radio has opened up a new world for musicians and listeners alike. It has brought millions of otherwise disconnected music-lovers back to music radio, and has opened up tremendous access and promotion for thousands of musicians – both obscure and well known.
We are striving very hard to build a business. We employ eleven full time people in our ad sales team, and despite very high licensing and streaming costs, believed that we could make it work over the next several years if internet advertising continues to grow. This ruling drives the licensing fees (fees that are NOT paid by terrestrial broadcasters) completely out of reach, and makes our goal impossible.
This is a terribly ill-conceived attempt to crush a powerful and positive grassroots movement that is sweeping across the music world. The record labels’ struggles have nothing to do with online radio and killing it will further hurt their business, not help it.
We need your help. If you’d like to get involved please write your congressperson. Below is a link to point you to the right person. If you can, please send a letter or a fax that asks for a reply (emails are too easily ignored).
Congressional Directory by Zip Code
If you want to learn more details, try this informative blog post from an attorney familiar with the process:
Now more than ever, thanks for your support.
Tim (Founder)

Brand new, Pandora Podcast #7: Pedal Point

Question: What do “1999,” the instrumental section of the Who’s Tommy, and the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony all have in common?

All of these musical selections make use of a compositional technique called “Pedal Point.” Today is the debut of our latest free show, which explores this writing device and shows how it functions in the Music Genome. Pandora music analyst Michelle Alexander performs examples live in the studio, and we look at how pedals have been used differently over the years.
Here’s the new episode — be sure to listen to audio examples further down the page.

Michelle and I will be around, answering questions on the comments page. We hope you enjoy the show.


Curated stations: a few staff favorites

Sometimes people ask us what kinds of music the Pandora staff listens to. Truly, I think every possible genre of music is represented in our office in terms of what employees listen to for fun. I asked around at the office to see if my co-workers had any favorite stations they’d like to share, stations that have been carefully curated to produce pleasing results. Here’s a handful of them for your listening pleasure; I’ll post another couple rounds over the next few weeks.
If you have a station you’re particularly proud of, whether it came together easily or with a lot of work, please tell us about it in the comments and link to the station page so we can take a look/listen!
Matt, our marketing and analytics guru, is particularly proud of his Classic Soul and Go-Go station, which he explains: “Go-Go has nothing to do with Belinda Carlisle or 60s dancers in boots. It’s a drum-heavy flavor of soul/funk local to my hometown, Washington, D.C. Chuck Brown and Trouble Funk are some of Go-Go’s biggest names. This station plays some classic soul grooves as well as some unique Go-Go that is rarely heard (until now) by folks other than D.C. locals.”
Eric, an engineer and Pandora’s second ever employee back in 2000, is a big fan of his Digichill station. He says he can work to this electronic station all day long.
Michelle, who is on the music buying team, recently put together a ’60s Garage Nuggets station. See the station page for her interesting description and the long list of little-known artist seeds.
“Addi,” one of our hip-hop/rap specialists and the professional DJ for the San Francisco Giants ballpark, offers up his favorite station, Pass the Peas, a mostly instrumental funk station that he says is ideal for parties. (now you have an excuse to have a party!)
(Keep reading, there’s more….)

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Play Listen Repeat Vol. 8

Another excellent set of comments from last week’s post. Thanks to everyone for such thoughtful and stimulating notions…. We’ll definitely get back to lyrics sometime soon.
I’ve been reading Andy Summers‘ autobiography entitled One Train Later (which I love by the way), and hearing those early Police tracks again has brought up that mysterious question of what it is about certain tracks that makes them simply work.
What is the magic?
Why is it that a virtually exact replica of, say, Can’t Stand Losing You,” wouldn’t be as good as the original? That song in particular is maybe not a masterpiece, but it’s full of raw power and intensity which seems like it couldn’t be repeated or imitated.
Anyone care to take a shot at explaining what’s happening there and with other irrestistable hit songs?

New Pandora Podcast: Drums and Drumming, Part II

To paraphrase Gloria Estefan: The rhythm is gonna get you. The rhythm is gonna get you. The rhythm is gonna… okay, it just repeats from there.

Jeff Anthony is back, and he brought his drumsticks as well as his brushes this time. For this new, absolutely free show, Jeff and I jump into swing and shuffle. He plays different beats that work in reggae, punk, jazz and country, and we show the distinct similarities between these percussive patterns. Hear the subtle variations that make for one-drop reggae and double-time jazz! Marvel at the train beat that gets used in rockabilly and country! Dissect the unique style that Stewart Copeland developed with the Police! Fun for the whole family.
Check it out here, and don’t forget to play the audio examples further down on the page.

Jeff and I will be checking out the comments page all day long, answering your questions and talking shop. Please come say hello. Enjoy!


Kansas City Get-together Wednesday, February 21st, 2007!

Tonight, I’ll be in Kansas City to meet Pandora listeners and music lovers at the Screenland Theatre Crossroads. Very excited to meet Pandora listeners and music fans in the area. If you’re nearby and free, please stop by and say hi! Full details for the event are below.
When: Wednesday, February 21st, 2007 at 7:00 pm
Where: Screenland Theatre Crossroads
1656 Washington, Kansas City (map)
Hope to see you there!
Tim (Founder)

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 7

Hello all,
When it comes to song lyrics, there is a lot to discuss. I have some plans for future posts on the subject, but first, as a kind of warm-up for the later questions, I’m wondering what peoples’ favorite lyrics are. I have many, but here are a few that stand out:
From Downtown Train by Tom Waits:
“The downtown trains are full with all those Brooklyn girls. They try so hard to break out of their little worlds, but you wave your hand and they scatter like crows. They have nothing that will ever capture your heart. Theyr’e just thorns without the rose…”
And from Houses in Motion by Talking Heads:
“For a long time I felt without style or grace, wearing shoes with no socks in cold weather…”
I’d like to know peoples’ reasons, either intellectual or emotional, for remembering and loving the lyrics they do. Very curious…
Tom Waits
Talking Heads