We’ve just launched the latest update to Pandora. While we’re constantly making little tweaks and improvements here and there, tonight’s update was a big one and I’m devoting five posts to covering the details. Click through to read all the details on what we’re launching today:
New Favorites and Sharing Features
Pandora RSS Feeds (Beta)
Fit, Finish and Polish
Pandora for Your Site
We’re very excited to have released the latest version of Pandora for all of you to play with. We’d love to know what you think — leave a comment here or drop us an email at email@example.com. We read everything.
As always, enjoy the music!
One of the things we care a lot about here at Pandora is giving you a space to share your musical discoveries with the world. That’s what the “Your Favorites” page is all about. Whenever you discover a song on Pandora that you love, just click on the album art and select “Add to Your Favorites Page.” That adds the song to your personal favorites page. You can then easily share the page URL with your friends.
With tonight’s release we’ve upgraded the favorites page with some new features:
- You can now listen to a 30-second sample of each song on any favorites page (your page, or one of your friends pages).
- When you visit a friend’s favorites page (for example, http://www.pandora.com/people/tconrad), you can click any of the stations listed and that station will be immediately added to the list of stations in your player. Sharing stations is easier than ever.
- Each song on a favorites page now links to a “song page” where you can view album art, listen to a 30-second sample, and purchase the song from iTunes or Amazon. These are great URL’s to pass around to your friends too. Here’s a song I love: Lua by Bright Eyes.
- Your favorites are now available as an RSS feed. Just click click the orange XML icon get the feed URL and then add it to your favorite aggregator (My.Yahoo!, live.com Bloglines, NetNewsWire, etc.). Your friends can subscribe to your feed of favorites and then they’ll be notified each time you discover a great new song. For a really neat trick, add your Pandora favorites feed to the Mac OS X “RSS Visualizer” screensaver for a cool animated show of everything you’re finding on pandora.
Tonight we’re launching a new set of RSS feeds powered by Pandora’s listenership – that’s you! With these feeds you’ll be able to keep up to date on your friends’ stations and favorite songs from any RSS aggregator. You’ll also be able to watch as the Pandora community’s favorite songs, artists, and stations ebb and flow.
To quickly get started playing with our feeds, you can visit http://www.pandora.com/feeds where you’ll find some simple tools for generating Pandora feed URL’s. At this point we’re providing 5 distinct feed categories:
- A listener-specific feed of favorite songs: keep track of the songs your friends are discovering
- A listener-specific feed of stations: keep a running list of your friends Pandora stations
- A Pandora-wide feed of the top-rated songs playing on Pandora*
- A Pandora-wide feed of the top-rated artists playing on Pandora*
- A Pandora-wide feed of the most-shared stations playing on Pandora*
For each of these feeds, you can control the number of items you want to receive, as well as the time period you’re interested in. For example, maybe you want to get back the top-10 best-rated artists playing on Pandora over the course of the last week. Visit the feed generator page for the all the details.
Once you’ve created a feed URL it’s a simple matter of subscribing in your favorite aggregator (for example, My.Yahoo!, live.com Bloglines, NetNewsWire, etc.). Your friends can subscribe to your feed of favorites and then they’ll be notified each time you discover a great new song. For a really neat trick, add your Pandora favorites feed to the Mac OS X “RSS Visualizer” screensaver for a cool animated show of everything you’re finding on pandora.
About the Beta: In addition to setting these feeds up so that they’ll render nicely in your aggregator (with album art and so forth — including CSS classes so you can customize till your heart’s content), we’re also using RSS 2.0 with namespaces to include a fair bit of metadata about the items as well. So if you want to know the Album or Artist name, it’s in there and expressed in the musicbrainz.org “mm” namespace; if you want the iTunes or Amazon purchase URL’s they’re in there too in their respective namespaces. To cover the cases where no existing namespace would do, we’ve created a pandora namespace for additional information. For example, a URL that you can use to create a Pandora station from a song is delivered in the Pandora namespace.
Our use of existing namespaces is one area where I’m particularly interested in feedback during the beta period. Drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org with “RSS Beta” in the subject line if you’d like to share your perspectives and feedback with us. I’m looking forward to talking with you about it. You are also invited to leave your comments here on the blog and we can have a conversation out in the open; that’s always fine with us.
I’m really excited about this new dimension of Pandora; we’ll certainly be adding more feeds over time (for example, a feed that captures all of your thumbs up/down feedback would surely be a great thing). It will be fun to see what the community does with all this.
* Known Issue: The top song, artist, and shared station feeds are being calculated from data that we’re collecting starting today and they’re updated on a daily basis. Expect that it will take 24 hours or so for these feeds to populate with items.
There’s quite a bit of refinement and UI polish that went into this release. There are probably 20 little things that have changed in the UI to make the experience of using Pandora just a little nicer. For example, the player finally gives you an idea of how long it’s going to take to finish loading when you first visit the site. When you email a station to a friend, there’s a confirmation panel to tell you that it’s on its way. When you mouse over a song “slide” you get a little halo to let you know that something will happen when you click. In fact, there’s a halo effect on lots of things. Truth be told, we went a little halo crazy this release.
We love this stuff, and we have a list a mile long of other little things we want to refine. You can bet that we’ll be working on these over time. The thing is that we really want your experience with Pandora to be an entirely delightful one and we’re big believers that the little stuff really does matter.
This is one that a lot of our listeners have been asking for… with this release we’ve added basic keyboard navigation to Pandora. You can now control music playback from your keyboard:
spacebar: Toggle Play / Pause
right-arrow: Skip to the Next Song
plus: I Like this Song
minus: I Don’t Like this Song
up-arrow: Raise Volume
down-arrow: Lower Volume
shift + up-arrow: Full Volume
shift + down-arrow: Mute
There is one important caveat: thanks to the wonderful world of web browsers, the keyboard navigation only works if our player has “focus.” This means that you need to click the player once before the keyboard shortcuts work. If you click outside the player on the page, you’ll have to click back in the player again to use the keyboard equivalents. We’ll work on refining this (and adding more keyboard shortcuts) over time.
One of the really flattering things that’s happened to us over the months since we launched is that many of you have written to us asking if you can link to Pandora from your website. We’ve had a basic mechanism in place for some time that lets you link directly to a song or artist station. If that’s what you’d like to do, take a look at this FAQ entry.
In most cases though, people have been asking for some kind of Pandora “create station” module or a banner that they can put up. So tonight we’ve put up a page that will make doing so easy. Just head over to http://www.pandora.com/how_to_link.shtml to choose from a variety of different options.
I can’t tell you how gratifying it has been to get these sorts of requests. Thanks for asking; we’re delighted to finally be able to lend a hand.
We’ll be taking Pandora off the air for a few hours tonight to put up a new release. We’ll be shutting things down around 9PM Pacific. We’ll be down for a few hours as we perform the upgrade and then we’ll be back and better than ever. We’re really looking forward to hearing what you think of our latest batch of upgrades. I’ll post more details when we’re done.
[Update: We're all finished. Everything went as planned - enjoy the new Pandora!]
We’re getting together this Thursday (Jan 12th, 2006) at MacWorld in San Francisco. Chuck Joiner, a great friend of Pandora and editor of MacVoices is organizing it.
Click here for details.
Where: Piazza Lounge on the second floor of the Renaissance Parc55 Hotel
When: 6:30 – 8 PM.
Tim and I will be there – may also head out for dinner afterwards. Come help us figure out how to get Pandora onto the iPod…!
Later this month, I’ll be in Kansas City to host a get-together with Pandora listeners and anyone interested in music. Everyone is welcome to attend, and full details are below. Just send an RSVP to email@example.com with “Kansas City” in the subject line. Hope to see you there!
When: Wednesday, February 21st, 2006 @ 7 PM
Where: Screenland Theatre Crossroads, 1656 Washington St, Kansas City, MO
Will be coming around to Baltimore on November 16th to host a town hall meeting. Great local musical heritage with hotspots for jazz and new wave. Looking forward to an exciting and lively talk! Details for the meetup are below:
WHEN: Thursday, November 16th, 2006 @ 7 PM
WHERE: Community Hall
Corner of Charles & Hamilton Streets