Pandora

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

No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 9

Hello again!
We took the last week off to let the news about Backstage at Pandora sink in, but it’s time for another blast of rare and revisited artists and songs from the Pandora collection! We love to hear from you, so let us know how these songs strike you, and where the stations take you as well.
Go here to see what we featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, and Volume 7.
This week’s list:
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Hyper-ballad by Bjork. A song with a chorus that’s too beautiful for words, really. For those of you who don’t know Bjork, she’s an Icelandic art-diva with a huge, distinctive voice and a brilliant artistic vision. I wish she were President of Everything, and I bet I’m not alone in that.

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Chicago Meetup Friday, February 23rd, 2007!

I’ll be returning to Chicago for a get-together with Pandora listeners and interested music fans later this month at the Lakeshore Theater. Full details of the meet-up are below. If you’re interested in attending, please send an RSVP to tour@pandora.com with “Chicago” in the subject line. Hope to see you there!
When: Friday, February 23rd, 2007 @ 7 PM
Where: Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway
How to get there from the El: Take the Red, Brown or Purple line to Belmont and head east to Broadway. The theater is on the east side of the street just south of the Belmont/Broadway intersection. We recommend taking public transportation to get there, as parking may be difficult.

2 Days in Chicago
Terrific location at the City Lit community theatre. Kurt Hanson from RAIN joined me for the first of two meetups. Another great set of discussions.
Full recap of June tour here!

MEETUPS!!!

What a great couple weeks… We had 5 town hall meetings across the country… New York City, Washington DC, Chicago (2), Seattle. What an amazing experience to spend so much time with Pandora listeners… 150 folks showed up for the NYC gathering – funny to think that just a couple months ago there were three… including me! Planning on many more.
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….more of Pandora’s Music Analysts….

Last week I shed a little light on what it’s like to be one of the people who analyzes all of the songs you hear on Pandora. Here’s a few more stations on which you can hear the musical skills of some of our Music Analysts. It’s fun for me to get to showcase such great and widely varied music, all coming out of the people in our office!
More next week…
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René Peña-Govea (left, with Melody at right) sings and plays the accordion in her family band, La Familia Peña-Govea. You’ve got to hear this; it’s two parents and their two daughters playing traditional Colombian, Tex-Mex and Mexican music.
Ariah Firefly, up-and-coming pop star and long-time Pandoran, sings lush R&B-inflected pop that’s both ethereal and powerful. Take a listen: you’ll like it!
Darian Gray, one of our newest Analysts, is always smiling and always game. (we like that in our co-workers!) Dynamic is the name of his catchy band, which is R&B mixed with hip hop, rock and some drum and bass.
The Patrick Greene Trio , starring our own Analyst Patrick Greene, consists of Guitar, Organ, and Drums (aka GOD). Listen up for some, as he puts it, “Jazz Funk Post Bop Straight Ahead Modern High Energy Spiritual” music.
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Happy Monday!
cheers, Lucia

Welcome Backstage

When we started designing Pandora in January of 2005, we set out to create a service that would do three things:

  • Instantly create on-target stations
  • Provide the best music discovery experience anywhere
  • Reward listeners that want to “lean in” and learn more when they hear a WOW! song

We’re finally ready to make good on that third promise.

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Starting tonight, whenever you hear a song you love, just click the song, album, or artist name to learn more. That click will take you “backstage” where you can browse an entire universe that tells the story of more than twenty thousand artists and their collected works.
Sample entire CD’s, read about the history of your favorite bands, look at artist photos, build your musical profile, buy albums and tracks from iTunes or Amazon, and get all kinds of great recommendations for songs, albums, and artists you might enjoy.
Find something you like? You can create a new station with just a single click. Have some time on your hands? Just want to browse? Want to settle a bet about how many albums The Cure released in the 80’s? Hop over to http://www.pandora.com/backstage and search for your favorite artist or song to get started.

Ok, I have a confession to make. We actually started out to do four things… so stay tuned, there’s still a lot of great stuff to come. You haven’t seen anything yet…

A couple of little things…

As with most of the software we release at Pandora, tonight’s update has a few little features that our listeners have been dropping in our suggestion box since day one.
Most notably, you can now rate a song with a single mouse click. No more “Guide Us” or album-art-menu to contend with. Just mouse over the song you want to rate, and click the thumb graphic that pops up. It’s that simple. Hard to believe it took us nearly 8 months to get that right.
We’ve also added the ability to create a new station from any artist you encounter while listening. So let’s say that a great song comes along from Rhett Miller while you’re listening to your carefully tuned Alt County station. To start a new station influenced by just Rhett’s sound, click the song menu and select “New Station: from artist” and we’ll instantly create a new station for you.

You Used to be My Favorite

With tonight’s release we’ve given our “favorites” system an upgrade and decided that it’s also a good time for a name change.
You’ve told us you’re using the favorites feature for all kinds of things. Some of you use it to keep track of songs you want to research, some use it as a purchase wish list, others use it as a public expression of their musical preferences, while others still use it as a history of the very best songs they’ve found while listening.
Since there’s such diversity in how this features is being used, we’ve decided to recast the system as “bookmarks” and to relaunch the favorites page as a musical profile. Don’t worry — all your old “favorites” are still there. We’ve just given them a new home.
At the same time we’ve added some new features to the page. Now your stations automatically appear on the page and you can now keep a list of bookmarked artists in addition to songs.

The Ears behind Pandora

[UPDATE: In addition to Pandora’s Music Analysts mentioned below, click here for the second, third, fourth and fifth Analyst spotlights in this series.]
Hello again, Lucia here. I thought I’d pay homage to my brothers and sisters who analyze all of the music you hear on Pandora. Most of you already know that Pandora employs a big team of Music Analysts. They have listened to every single song you hear on your stations. They listen in order to catalog the musicological analysis required for Pandora’s song-matching.
Our Analysts deconstruct songs looking for hundreds of different traits, covering things like vocals, rhythm, instrumentation, harmony, melody, sound production and lyrics. Remember, the Music Genome never generalizes about artists’ repertoires; each song is considered individually. While you’re listening to Pandora you can read about a couple of the basic ‘genes’ we’ve attached to any given song by clicking on ‘why is this song playing?’
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Our Analysts sit in our office with headphones on all day, listening to songs, researching songs, and categorizing the musicological make-up of these songs. This is the Music Genome Project. This is the information that drives your station matches. After the analysis is done, it’s up to Pandora’s patented playlist generator to pick songs for your stations.

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Pandora Server Upgrade – 7PM, Friday June 9th

Now that our servers are all settled into their new home, we’re ready for phase two of our capacity expansion project.
Tonight at 7PM Pacific Time, we’ll be expanding our radio database cluster. This will give us lots of headroom for future growth and is the output of months of work and planning by the Pandora engineering team.
Like the datacenter move, this is a delicate process and requires that we put our system into “read only” mode while we do our work. Starting at 7PM, you will be able to listen to your existing stations, but you’ll not be able to create new stations, give us feedback on existing stations, or edit your account in any way. The system will be in this state for quite a long time — we estimate that it could be 12-15 hours before the new system is entirely populated and up, running, and able to take your station creation requests again. We estimate that the system will be back to normal at noon pacific time on Saturday June 10th.
We don’t like having to put the system into “read only” mode at all; it’s something that we always endeavor to avoid. Sadly there’s a small set of operations that simply require it. Last month’s datacenter move and tonight’s changes unfortunately fall into this category. Thanks in advance for your patience. While Pandora will stay the same on the surface for the time being, this change sets us up to scale to a much larger listener base and to bring more and more features online in the coming months.
Update 6AM, 6/10: Things are going according to plan and we’re making great progress. Thanks again for your patience.
Update 9AM, 6/10: The upgrade is complete and we’ve turned the new system on. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on things throughout the coming days. Everything went as planned with one caveat: some of you that created a station and later deleted the station may see the deleted station show back up in your stations list. This will only happen if someone had “shared” your station before you deleted it. We’re working on a fix to clean that up.
A tiny little surprise: There is one little feature in this release that a lot of folks have been asking about. Each song “slide” now shows the name of the album in addition to the name of the artist and song. Enjoy!