Pandora

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

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?’
analysts.jpg
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!

No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 8

Hello again,
For your Friday afternoon and weekend pleasure, here’s this week’s list of nuggets!
Previous Posts: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6,and Volume 7.
Smoker by DMBQ. If you even so much as have a passing interest in Zeppelin, you might want to bend an ear to this spiky, crushing masterpiece by the Japanese improvisational hard rock / experimental band. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. LOVE IT.

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Starting Points

Ever get a brain freeze when you go to enter a song or an artist into
Pandora? Want to try a new, completely unfamiliar style of music? I’ve
been combing through the stations created by Pandora listeners over the
past month and I’d like to tell you about some of them.  These stations
have lots of listeners and those
listeners give many more thumbs up than thumbs down to the songs that
play on them.

Tune in to some of these stations and you will hear a lot of
interesting
music. When you hear a song style you particularly like you can use
“Make a
new station from this song”. Or just let it play and enjoy.

Reel Big
Fish
” – This is a cool station. Like the band this station covers a
range of music including Ska, Punk, Alt-Rock and Grunge. Don’t know
what these terms mean? Not to worry. If you like catchy electric guitar
riffs, fast tempos, brilliant horn section backgrounds and two-part
vocal harmonies, give this station a try.

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No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 7

Hi folks!
It’s Friday afternoon in California, and I submit to the general public another list of songs that are flying far and wide under the big endless sky that is recorded music.
Go here to see what I featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, and Volume 6.
This week’s picks:
La Negra Tomasa by Compay Segundo. This legendary Cuban guitarist is still making records 99 years after his birth, and they’re more vital and authoritative than most records made by artists who are 1/4th his age. He’s an alumnus of the Buena Vista Social Club sessions, so any fans of that will dig this, but he’s been active since the 20’s. This is a new record, and I chose a traditional song accompanied by a clarinet section, among other delicacies. Been listening to lots of Latin music lately as we build the catalog and I try to keep up. Everyone should hear this for sure!

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I’m currently planning an itinerary for my next tour stop in New York for summer 2006. We had a great time in New York back in May and again in June, so we’ll definitely be back again soon. I’ll be stopping in the city for the CMJ conference at the end of October. Lecturing later that week at NYU to the next generation of digital music entrepreneurs – should be great fun. New York always has something new to offer every time. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any suggestions about a meetup. I can’t wait to come back!
We love reading and responding to your feedback on the blog – the comments have been a treasure trove of great insights and guidance as we plan our visits. If you have a particular idea you want to discuss, or just want to get more involved, we’re eager for help – just drop us an email at tour@pandora.com. Please include your location in the subject line of your message too. No idea is too big or small!

Pandora: the many educational uses!

As I have mentioned, a fascinating part of working at Pandora is hearing about the wild variety of people who use Pandora in such a variety of different ways. Many people have written to us to tell us that they use Pandora in classrooms of all types…from kindergartners to grad students.
One teacher in Hawaii taught her young students about music appreciation by using Pandora. She required that they each make their own stations and get to know a little bit about their musical tastes. She wrote to us to say how well it was going, and that some of her students routinely stayed in from recess so that they could listen to Pandora.
Another teacher mentioned that he teaches at-risk kids. He wrote to us to tell us how helpful Pandora has been for him. He makes custom Pandora stations that are mellow and promote calm and he plays them during class to improve behavior and learning in his students.

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New York Meetup

We’re coming to New York City next week. I’d like to meet Pandora listeners to talk about the service and more generally about the future of online music…
When: Monday, June 5th, 2006 – 7pm
Where: Tribeca Film Center (The Screening Room)
375 Greenwich (bet. North Moore & Franklin Directions
This is a FREE event. Seating is limited, so if you’d like to attend, please RSVP to timinny@pandora.com
Should be a fun evening. Hope to see you there! Tim (Founder)