Pandora

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

Background Music

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Over the weekend I drove up from Oakland to Napa Valley and listened to This American Life to pass the time. As I listened to this week’s stories I was struck by the critical role the background music played. Whether it’s just a sonic backdrop for a moment of storytelling or a mechanism to transition from one scene to the next, the music provided important glue and subtext to the show. It wouldn’t have been the same experience without it.
On Friday night Pandora had the great fortune to provide the “soundtrack” for the 7th TechCrunch Party.
TechCrunch is a website that covers emerging companies on the new Internet as well as the mobile and consumer electronic domains. All of this is the brainchild of Mike Arrington who I was lucky enough to connect with at last year’s inaugural BarCamp. Mike’s covered Pandora’s evolution ever since.
So, as the nearly 700 guests at Mike’s party mingled, Pandora played DJ and – just like This American Life – the party had a completely different edge depending on what was spinning.
This was the 7th TechCrunch party and Pandora has been the DJ at just about all of them. It’s been a great way to get to know the bright people working on new web products and services as well as familiar faces from around the blogosphere like Robert Scoble, Thomas Hawk, and Scott Beale.
If you’ve let Pandora be the DJ at your own party, let us know how it went in the comments. We’d love to hear about it.
Photo Credit Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Backstage behavior

Do you recognize this behavior?
I happened to discover this song last week on Pandora: Say What You Mean by Maktub.
It was one of those times where you’re trying to Get Things Done, but this amazing song comes on…you have to find out what that song is, right? And once you see the album cover, then you have to click through to the artist bio, right? Because who is singing this fabulous song?! And then you want to read the notes about the album too. And maybe listen to a few of the clips of the rest of the songs on the album? And then maybe you create a couple of stations initiated from different songs on the same album, just to see how different the stations might turn out? (or is this just me?)
Then you see that the song you’re loving musically matches a Prince song; that’s interesting! I grew up in Prince Country, so I have to listen to the clip of that song too, don’t I? And then wait: it’s Prince singing (what if god was) One of Us. I remember Joan Osborne singing that. Huh, I wonder who wrote it? (sound of nerdy researching…answer: Eric Bazilian)
Pretty soon you’ve “wasted” a chunk of “precious” time just enjoying this music and the Backstage information surrounding it.
Ah, but it sure beats the alternative, doesn’t it? There’s nothing wrong with having a happily stuffed Pandora profile!
cheers, Lucia
Maktub Radio

FALL 2006 TOUR…

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We’re gearing up for a whole host of get togethers this Fall and would love to hear thoughts, suggestions, etc. from all of you. Already have Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Indiana, and more on the itinerary. We’ve created links for those respective states to the right on this page. We’d welcome your input, including suggestions for other destinations.
Also, if you like to help out, please send us a note to tour@pandora.com We can use all the help we can get!
Hope to see you in your hometown soon. Cheers. Tim (Founder)

Sardines in Orlando!

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Well, somehow we managed to squeeze over 70 people into a space meant for 35. Thanks for being good sports everyone. Really great evening of food and music talk. Wonderful to see so many people show up, especially as the spot was a little out of the way. Walked away with some good insights from the evening (including the fact that I may have Journey in my genome…). Lots of discussion about celebrity playlists, artist-based stations, and improving the buying experience – too many songs/artists not available. Definitely something we’d like to figure out.

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Orlando Meetup!!

Calling all Pandora listeners near Orlando! We’re getting together for a Town Hall meeting this coming Friday, August 4th in Ocoee–just a few miles from downtown Orlando. We’d like to meet our Floridian listeners to talk about the service and more generally about the future of online music… We’ll have food, drink, Pandora gifts and undoubtedly some great musical conversation at the House Blend Café–lovely spot that donates all their profits to local charities.
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Details:
When: Friday, August 4th, 2006 – 7pm
Where: House Blend Cafe
10730 West Colonial Drive (Hwy50) near Bluford Avenue Directions
This is a FREE event. Seating is limited, so if you’d like to attend, please RSVP to tim.westergren@pandora.com
Should be a great evening. Hope to see you there! Tim (Founder)

Update: The September 28th 2006 meet will be located at The Silent Movie Theatre (611 North Fairfax Ave), and will begin at 7pm. RSVP for the meet by sending an email to tour@pandora.com with ‘Los Angeles’ in the subject line. Hope to see you there!
Hitting Los Angeles on September 28th and also at the end of October. Should be some interesting meetups at the hub of the modern record business. In addition to evening meetups, I’m going to be speaking on the USC campus in some classes on both occasions. Nothing like time with students to get psyched up. LA has a bustling music scene, and I welcome any suggestions for places that I should stop by while I’m there. Drop a message below to keep the comments section buzzing!
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!

SAN FRANCISCO TOWN HALL ROUND UP!

Wow – what memorable evenings we have had!
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Thanks to everyone who showed up for the Zeum and SWIG gatherings over the past week. They were great opportunities to hear from the hometown crowd directly – long overdue. Particularly enjoyable for the many Pandora employees who were finally able to attend a town hall meeting in person, rather than rely on blogs and emails. Special for all of us.
We had 230 folks show up at Zeum… !!

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The ears behind Pandora….last but not least!

Here’s the last in our series of blog posts that showcase some of the musical works of our Music Analysts. As you know, every song you listen to on Pandora has been carefully analyzed by our trained staff, to figure out its building blocks so that it can be matched to other songs. But in addition to analyzing songs for Pandora, they play music. I’ve been posting a few of the Pandora stations on which you can hear some of our Music Analysts, which as you have probably noticed, represents quite a range of styles. Take a listen! (click here for the first , second , third, and fourth Analyst spotlights.)
Alan Lin can be found playing the violin on a variety of stations! You can find him playing with Pandora staff, such as Ariah Firefly and Michael Zapruder’s Rain of Frogs. Here’s three more artists whose Pandora stations feature Alan’s work: Etienne de Rocher plays catchy-but-intelligent pop music from the swamps of Alabama, with a large helping of soul. David Hopkins, a school-mate of Damien Rice’s, writes beautiful, heart-wrenching love songs as well as catchy ditties. Noe Venable is a sonic poet that a music reviewer once declared to be the secret love-child of Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones.
The group made up of the most Pandorans is called Michael Zapruder’s Rain of Frogs. In addition to non-Pandora musicians, this talented group consists of Steve Hogan (pictured below), Jeff Anthony, Kurt Kotheimer (who’s also in 24 Hr USA), Alan Lin, Yair Evnine, Josh Smith and obviously, Michael Zapruder. You should come to their CD release party on August 17th, at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco. Their CD features beautifully written moody songs with deeply interesting lyrics. Their mellow sound showcases lots of strings, sometimes horns, and reminds me at times of Elvis Costello or Rufus Wainwright.
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This is Steve Hogan, our head Music Analyst and stellar human being. In this photo he’s in our music library, playing that Sesame Street song, “These are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood……” He had sung it to his baby as a lullaby the night before (without the accordion!), and the tune just stuck in his head.
It’s been really fun for me to learn a bit more about the musical efforts of my co-workers, though you’d be surprised how hard it was to get many of them to offer up information about their bands. These are some talented cats, and you know what they say about herding cats…. I hope that you, dear listener, enjoyed getting to know the music of some of our Analysts as well; there’s so much music in our collection to try out! Get to it!
cheers, Lucia

SAN FRANCISCO TOWN HALL 7/25

Calling all Bay Areans! We’re getting together for a Town Hall meeting next Tuesday (July 25th) in San Francisco. We’d like to meet Pandora listeners to talk about the service and more generally about the future of online music… The new event will be held at SWIG, a very cool club near Union Square.
Details:
When: Tuesday, July 25th, 2006 – 7pm
Where: SWIG Bar
561 Geary Street @ Taylor Directions
This is a FREE event. Seating is limited, so if you’d like to attend, please RSVP to tim.westergren@pandora.com
Should be a great evening. Hope to see you there! Tim (Founder)

…and more of Pandora’s Music Analysts…

Here’s one more in our series of blog posts that showcase some of our Music Analysts. Much of the musical output of Pandora staff doesn’t happen to be in our collection, but we thought you might like to know of some Pandora stations that feature the men and women who analyze all of the music you listen to! (click here for the first , second and third Analyst spotlights.)
Jeff Anthony, Pandora’s percussionist extraordinaire (pictured here), has quite the impressive resume. In addition to playing live with all manner of accomplished musicians, he shows up playing the drums on the following Pandora stations. Sheryl Crow: I think you may have heard of her? Jeff drums on her C’mon C’mon album, a personal favorite of mine. He also plays with the all-Pandora band Michael Zapruder’s Rain of Frogs, who just released a new CD (more on them next week). You can find him on the Dahlia station, which is an electronic duo, and on the Tom Varley and the Sun Dogs station, who describe themselves as “good ol’ fashion tiki bar music from Portland.”
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Jeff’s drumming can also be found on a Jenny Kerr station, which features roots & blues harmonica-driven Americana. He spent much of last year touring internationally with the Eric McFadden Trio, a brilliant, frighteningly unique psycho rock band that’s difficult not to love. (update: Jeff tells me that he also did a lot of touring internationally with Chuck Prophet last year.)
Evan Francis, who may well win the prize for Smilingest Music Analyst, shows up on several Pandora stations as well. He plays sax in The Ian Carey Quintet, which is jazz, and also with The Industrial Jazz Group. You can also hear him on Spaceheater radio, in the vein of instrumental hiphop/downtempo electronica.
Marina Garza, one of our newest hires, is one of our Latin Music Specialists. She plays with the Orquesta D’Soul, which she describes as Latin Salsa Pop. I notice that Pandora refers to their music as having “danceable grooves.” I concur.
Tom Griesser plays sax in the Brass Monkey Brass Band, a high-octane 8-piece ensemble in the style of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the ReBirth Brass Band, with a lineup of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, tuba, and drums. In addition to their fiery original compositions, their repertoire ranges from traditional New Orleans favorites such as “When The Saints Go Marching In” to renditions of tunes by Zappa and Led Zeppelin.