The Pandora Team

Miami Get-together Tuesday!

This Tuesday, I’ll be in North Miami to meet Pandora listeners and music lovers at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Looking forward to hearing what your thoughts are about the service and current trends in digital music. If you’re in the area, please stop by! Full details are below.
When: Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 – doors open 6:30 PM, event @ 7 PM
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, Paradise Courtyard
770 NE 125th St, North Miami, FL (map)
MOCA has also generously offered to keep the Museum open for Pandora listeners, so feel free to check out their fantastic current exhibit: “Merce Cunningham: Dancing on the Cutting Edge” before and after the event!
Hope to see you there!
Tim (Founder)

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 10

Well, although the RIAA and Sound Exchange are foolishly working their hardest to cripple internet radio, the beat does go on here at Pandora, which means it’s time for another Play Listen Repeat discussion.
This isn’t like fiddling while Rome burns, or like the band playing while the Titanic goes down; let’s think of it more like having a fascinating conversation while we’re waiting in line to dunk our grammar school principal in one of those dunking machines.
Dunk Tank(1).jpg
Here’s what’s on the curator’s mind today: is the easy availability of music as digital files, and is the fundamental similarity those files have with other digital files like emails, taxes, word documents, and such, an aesthetic liability for the music?
In other words, are we seeing the supermodel without her makeup on? Or are we simply getting past the surface so that we can have a real relationship with the music, free of myths and posturing?
Do tell.

Pandora Podcast #8: Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady and Dub

Our newest episode, in which the doldrums of late-winter snow get chased away by a trip to Jamaica…

Ray, Vic, Jayme and Mark from the Soul Captives show us variations on modern Jamaican music styles, while performing and explaining some of the subtleties of ska, dub, rocksteady, early reggae and roots reggae. This week’s episode features skanking riddims, a bubbling Lowrey, and some tasty spring reverb.

If any of you in Listenerland happen to be in Northern California this weekend, the Soul Captives and the Skatalites (45 years later, still making dancefloors shake) are performing together this Sunday 3/25 at Ashkenaz in Berkeley.

Check out the show here, and don’t forget to play the audio examples further down on the page.

Ray and Vic and I will all be chatting in the comments area at the bottom of that page, so come drop a line or ask a question. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you use iTunes and would like a free subscription to the Pandora podcasts, go here.


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….)

Read More →

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?