The Pandora Team

Some Good News

If you’ve been following the Pandora blog recently you know it’s been a tough couple of months for us. Between the SaveNetRadio crisis and being forced to block visitors outside the US, we’ve been through a frustrating stretch.
Even with these distractions, over in Product Development we’ve been busy as always working to make Pandora better than ever. We still spend every day asking “what are we doing wrong? what can we be doing better?”
Today I’m happy to tell you about some fun new stuff we rolled out late last night.
First up is volume normalization. I’m sure you’ve noticed that listening to Pandora can give the volume knob on your PC a real workout. The trouble is that songs recorded in, say, 1980 have a dramatically different perceived volume than those recorded more recently. In terms of the requests we get from our listeners, finding some solution to this problem is pretty much the most requested feature. It turns out this is a pretty tricky problem to solve without sacrificing audio quality, so we’ve taken our time searching for an answer that preserves the overall audio experience while fixing the issue. Last night we rolled out a dynamic gain adjustment that will “normalize” the perceived volume from track to track automatically as you listen. No volume knob spinning required. No solution to this problem is perfect, but we’re quite happy with how this turned out. Let us know what you think.
Next on the list is a feature that will let you give feedback on shared stations. Now you can start with that great “Surf Music” station you discovered on a friend’s profile page and then tune it to your own tastes using thumbs up and down. Nothing special to do to get started, just click the thumb buttons as you normally would and we’ll take care of the rest.
We’ve also made some changes to make station creation easier. Ever wondered why when you try to create a station from Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, or even Liz Phair we ask you “Do you mean the artist or the song?”. As it happens there are songs with each of those names. Yes, there really is a song called Liz Phair. With our new release we’ll figure out the best answer to that question for you. We’re all about getting station creation down to just one click and this is a nice little step in that direction (don’t worry if you want to create a station from the song Frank Sinatra, you can still do that too — just click the “Hey! That’s not what I wanted” button as the Old Blue Eyes station starts up and we’ll take you back and let you select the song).
For those of you that were impacted by the recent IP blocking change we’ve restored access to the Pandora Backstage universe. Once again you’ll be able to access your profile and search for artist, album, and song recommendations. We know it’s not a substitute for the full version Pandora, but it’s a small token that many of you told us you wanted. We’re very happy to be able to give it back.
Finally we’ve updated things so you can use the “Move this song to another station” feature when you’re listening to shared stations and QuickMixes. This is another thing you asked for. We aim to please.
This is just the first set of changes we’ll be sharing over the coming weeks. While you’re helping us spread the word on SaveNetRadio, we’ll stay hard at work on making Pandora as good as it can possibly be. As always, thanks for listening and don’t hesitate to drop us a line to let us know what you’d like to see us tackle next.
CTO @ Pandora

Breaking Pandora’s Heart…

Dear Listeners –
Tonight we began the heartbreaking process of blocking access to Pandora for listeners outside the U.S.
It’s hard to think of anything more anathema to who we are than turning off someone’s radio, but the current legal realities leave us no choice. While the DMCA provides us a blanket license in the U.S., there is no equivalent in other countries. After a year of work, only the UK and Canada have shown enough progress for us to feel comfortable allowing continued access.
For those of you around the world who received our early warning emails, thanks so much for your kind and understanding replies… humbling. It really means a lot to us (even though it makes it doubly hard to do…)
Trust that we will continue working as hard as we can to obtain the licenses we need, and to push for the establishment of effective, centralized licensing bodies around the world. Hopefully this kind of development will add some urgency to the need for reform in the administration of worldwide copyrights.
We will all eagerly await the day when we can turn this back on, so please stay close. To quote our CTO, Tom Conrad: “we’ll take good care of your stations in the meantime.”
Keep the faith…
Tim (Founder)
Update: For those of you that were impacted by the IP blocking change, we’ve restored your access to the Pandora Backstage universe. Once again you’ll be able to access your profile and search for artist, album, and song recommendations. We know it’s not a substitute for the full version Pandora, but it’s a small token that many of you told us you wanted. We’re very happy to be able to give it back.

Legislation introduced to Save Internet Radio!

What a week! The outpouring of public support for internet radio over the past seven days has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Following our outreach to Pandora listeners, every congressional office was flooded with constituent phone calls, emails and faxes – literally hundreds of thousands in just 5 days! The entire fax system on the Hill was brought to a standstill. We had to hand deliver the faxes!
The response in DC has been dramatic and immediate. A bill was introduced today to reverse this terrible ruling and bring rationality to bear on this issue.
The bill is called the Internet Radio Equality Act, HR 2060 and is being introduced by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL). For more info go to SaveNetRadio
Please take a moment to call your congress person to voice your support for this legislation and urge them to sponsor or support the bill. It’s very important the we keep pressure on the legislators to ensure that this bill is passed quickly.
If you need help determining who your member of the House of Representatives is, go to where, in the upper left hand corner, you can enter your zip code and get the corresponding Congressperson. Click on their name to access the main phone number of their Washington, D.C. office.
Also, a heads up that I’ll be hosting a town hall next Monday evening in the capital. We’ll be on the Hill meeting with representatives and are having a special meetup. It’ll be followed by an evening of music and a party hosted by the SaveNetRadio coalition. It’s a free event – and friends are welcome. Come join the army of webcasters, musicians, politicians and others that are driving this campaign for a night of music and conversation. Details:
Where: Be Bar , 1318 9th Street NW
When: Monday, April 30th @ 6:30 PM
RSVP: Send email to
Hope to see you there…
Thank you again for all of your support.
Tim (Founder)

Pandora Podcast #11: Major & Minor

Take a listen! Our latest podcast, Episode 11, just went live.
This ten-minute show looks at major and minor chords, and how they are used in a variety of styles. We explore the push and pull that happens when you match major keys with sad lyrics, and show how some songwriters will use a minor-key verse to set up a push into the major-key chorus. Helping us dig into this often overlooked aspect of songsmithery is Scott Pinkmountain from the band P.A.F. Scott was born and raised down south in the City of Angels, Los Angeles.
Go straight to Episode 11 here, or head over to the main podcast page to see and hear all of these free shows.
On that podcast page, you can chat with Scott and me. Both of us are happy to debate tonality until the cows come home.

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 13

Greetings listeners,
Thanks for all the comments on the posts, and for the great feedback from the lyrics podcast.
This week I thought it would be cool to see what people here are listening to – as you can imagine, everyone from the executive staff to the engineers to of course the analysts listens to lots and lots of music. Here’s a sampling of today’s action:
Eric B (engineer) is listening to Leaving the Frantic by Sten
Eli B (engineer) is listening to Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid by Stars Of The Lid
Tim W (founder) is listening to anything from Ben Folds
Dina Z (communications) is listening to Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird
Chris H (analyst) is listening to You Are Beautiful At All Times by Yppah
Scott R (analyst) is listening to John PhillipsJohn Phillips
Joe K (ceo) is listening to Counting Crows
Mike C (listener advocate) is listening to The PapercutsCan’t Go Back
Olivier Z (engineer) is listening to Rosenberg TrioLive at the North Sea Jazz Festival
Carl E (engineer) is listening to Natasha BeddingfieldUnwritten
Alyssa W (bd and ad sales) is listening to Hello Radio–The Songs of They Might Be Giants
Patrick G (analyst) is listening to The Moving PartsWrong Conclusion
Ian E (listener advocate) is listening to EngineersEngineers
Alan L (analyst) is listening to Darol AngerHeritage
Neil M (engineer) is listening to Pink Martini
Jasmyn W (listener advocate) is listening to Gene Clark Flying High
Kurt K (analyst) is listening to OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music
Vic W (engineer) is listening to Amy WinehouseBack to Black
Melody P (analyst) is listening to Lhasa de SelaLa Llorona
Matt C (analyst) is listening to Dmitri from Paris
Steve G (director of technical operations) is listening to Derek Trucks BandSoul Serenede
Dan L-H (design) is listening to The Police
Adam B (analyst) is listening to MidlakeThe Trials of Van Occupanther
Russell J (analyst) is listening to Tom WaitsOrphans
Marc N (engineer) is listening to Kurt EllingNightmoves
Tony C (graphic design) is listening to Pop LeviThe Return to Form Black Magick Party
Ray J (analyst) is listening to Willie NelsonCrazy: The Demo Sessions
David S (analyst) The EndWithin Dividia
Ariah F (analyst) is listening to Amy WinehouseBack to Black
Jeffrey B (analyst) is listening to Loka‘s Fire Shepherds
Paul N (engineer) is listening to Alison RayDownside Up
Danny E (analyst) is listening to Mavis Staples Have a Little Faith
Mike A (analyst) is listening to Lifesavas
and you?

SAVENETRADIO… Please join us!

My deepest thanks to everyone who has been so supportive these past few weeks as we’ve confronted the stunning development with the internet radio royalty rates. It has been very heartening for all of
us to experience such a groundswell of support from our listeners.
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Today, in coordination with a fast growing consortium of webcasters big and small, commercial and non-commercial, we are launching a campaign to reverse this pending disaster.
I hope you’ll join us. To add your voice to this movement, please take a minute to sign the PETITION urging your representatives in congress to act at the new website
And please share this petition link with friends:
Our first goal is to demonstrate the magnitude of the injustice being committed here through the sheer volume of people it affects. We plan to rapidly follow this effort with the introduction of a bill in congress to protect ourselves once and for all from these predatory maneuvers.
The last couple weeks have made it quite clear to us that it’s going to take nothing short of a major public outcry to reverse the results of this concerted campaign by the RIAA to shutter internet radio.
As awareness of this ruling and its consequences are spreading through the musicians’ community, we are being joined daily by hundreds of artists and their organizations for whom internet radio has become such a promising new outlet.
Thanks again for your wonderful and on-going support. I hope you will become an
active part of this effort.
Best regards,
Tim (Founder)

Pandora Podcast #10: Song Lyrics

Ding ding ding, podcast is up. Fresh podcast. Get it while it’s hot.
Episode Ten is the first of our shows to get its hands dirty in the untidy business of lyric-writing. Our guest is Pandora music curator and Play Listen Repeat columnist Michael Zapruder. He and I talk about the topography of a song, heap effusive praise on writers we admire (Ray Davies, Joni Mitchell, Aesop Rock), and see how his song “The Alchemist” is contextually similar to Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” and Eminem’s “Kim.” Michael is originally from the great state of Maryland.
Go directly to the new episode here, or head over to the main podcast page to see and hear all ten shows.
Also, on that show page, you can ask us any questions you’d like, or disagree vehemently with us. Michael and I will be on there fielding comments and quoting David Berman lyrics.

Back from Podcamp NYC

I had no idea what to expect from Podcamp NYC. Predictions of a modern-day Wet Hot American Summer were soon disspelled: no underwear run up flagpoles, no basketweaving classes, no bug-juice-fueled hijinx between nubile young counselors.
Upon entrance, each of the 1300 registered participants was asked to sign a release form allowing his or her likeness to be displayed publicly. I thought this odd until I walked into a session and saw that many people there were taping and filming everything for their own podcasts. A vortex of cameras and microphones, with nearly every person recording every other person. Is this the future?

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Miami, FL Recap!

First chance to have a meeting with folks post royalty board ruling. Great to see how energized people are about this issue. Very heartening for us as we enter what is likely to be a long and difficult fight to reverse this ruling. It’s clear that the grassroots support of listeners is going to be critical.
Thanks to Esther for being such a great Hostess at her stunning modern art museum. Every community needs one of those.

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