Pandora

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

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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Nashville Part 2

Left Gibson’s and headed over to meet the folks at Grimey’s – a happenin’ indie record store. Mike Grimey and Doyle Davis are clear music fanatics. They had a downstairs club to boot.
Was really heartened to hear that their sales are growing rapidly. My new theory about music retail is that it’s the real music-centric indie stores that are going to start thriving in the new digital age. As digital tech skims off more and more of the mass audience that are the primary buyers of music in big box stores, success in retail is going to come more and more to those who really emphasize service and value for shoppers, to draw music fans that still long for that experience. People who like walking through narrow aisles stuff with music.. surrounded by music obsessed shop clerks eager to help out…
Grimeys2.jpg

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No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 4

Hi!
Got some choice nuggets for everyone this time, but since there’s been a bit of confusion about the name of this blog, let me just clarify something. This blog is not called “No Mainstream Fridays” because it’s against the music that we call “mainstream.” The title refers to the idea that the “mainstream” is a mutable construct, not a permanent, immutable feature of our culture; and as such, these sounds could (and maybe should) ALSO be mainstream.
anyhoo – check em out!
Nudes by Rites of Spring. My brother and I listened to this record “end on end” (danger: nerdy insider rites of spring reference) back in the early 80’s. Guy Piccioto’s band before Fugazi. Absolutely essential.

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Nashville Part 1

Any city that has a music club where they kick you out if you talk during the performance is ok in my book… such is the Bluebird Cafe, an unassuming little venue that is a coveted spot for visiting musicians (also a consensus favorite from the many comments to our TN post – thanks everyone!)
Nashville… what a music town…
BlueBird.jpg

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While you listen to Pandora, I listen to you.

**Update**
Here’s a couple more of my recent blog posts that you may find helpful!
Tips for perfecting your Pandora stations!
How to use Your Pandora Favorites Page
The use of Pandora in classrooms
** **
Hi, I’m Lucia. I’m your Listener Advocate here at your musical playground, Pandora. I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” thousands of you already, via email. Pandora employs me to make sure that your Pandora-related needs and wants are being paid attention to. Back when Pandora was being tested on a few listeners, I was a die-hard Panfanatic and couldn’t stop talking about Pandora to anyone who would listen. Now that I work here, it’s considered a good thing that I obsess about Pandora all the livelong day.
If you were to walk around our office on any given day, you would hear numerous exciting (and excitable) discussions about how to make Pandora better. This team is at work night and day coming up with new ideas and new-and-improved plans. The Pandora brainiacs work passionately at bringing you the best music, the best service, the best of the web.
One of my favorite parts of the job is hearing your anecdotes about Pandora. Many of you are kept saner at work because of Pandora. You tell us that your city only offers up tired radio stations, and that Pandora has saved you from musical boredom. Others of you have abandoned your radios and even your ipods because of us. And many DJs have written to us to thank us for providing them with a perfect way to find new tunes. Pandora has become your musical companion, and that makes me happy! All we want is for you to find music that moves you, and for more moving music of all kinds to be heard.

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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.