Pandora

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

The Musical Conversation

Finally broke down and picked up some voice recognition software today. It was that or wrist casts! I’ve been having a wonderful time corresponding with all the music lovers that have become part of pandora. And I really mean ‘part of’ pandora. We’re reading every word: bug fixes, new feature ideas, suggestions for improving the interface, and what probably stands out most – the unbelievable number of music recommendations – simply fantastic. Everything from out of print bluegrass gems to underground death metal must-haves; from great garage recordings with hastily pasted UPC stickers, to early records from legends that we didn’t even know existed. If this continues, the Music Genome Project will in no time become the world’s greatest record collection.
Perhaps the most gratifying part of the last month has been this vivid reminder, in the form of this flood of wonderfully thoughtful and personal emails, of just how much music means to everyone. Thanks to all of you for your generosity in sharing your musical passion and history with us.
Keep it comin’… (sorry in advance for the slower replies… doing our best)
Also, I want to start meeting you. I’m going to drop a note when I’m travelling to various cities and towns. Would love to sit down and talk music. Check in periodically to see when we’re doing it next. NYC is on the list this week.

Library-licious…

hey everyone!
It’s been busy busy around here lately, as we’ve worked to keep up with all of you! It occured to me that I should communicate my thanks to each of you who has send us music requests. It’s a very big world, and as I suspected, there are many many many cds in it. And yet, in classic late-aught-5 style, the combined efforts of many of you dedicated listeners have helped us more than any individual could have (see wikipedia, web 2.0, etc). And it’s only been a few months. Please keep the requests coming!
A little advanced addendum for the supremely devoted: if you’re sending us info for a brand new band, or a local band that’s probably not yet signed or distributed, please consider emailing the band directly and cc’ing us on that email. We are 100% receptive to independent music, and will listen to whatever people send in, and we’ll add it if we can. And we absolutely hate it when we can’t find copies of the music that you suggest to us!!! The same message goes out to those of you in bands who want to be considered for inclusion to Pandora. Please send us your music!
Also, believe it or not, certain genres are hard to find, even here in the commerce-glutted US of A, so if you feel that we’re light on a particular genre, please feel free to send us information on resources like online stores and review sites for your fave micro-genres. Sometimes that’s all it takes for us to be able to provide a comprehensive catalog of your favorite stuff….
Your requests are being logged and worked through, and we’re getting everything that we can, so long as we feel confident that it’s up to your standards…
OK. ’nuff about that. here are a very few of my favorite current musics, new and old, to spice up the holidays. In no particular order, a partial list:
City Bird (Pandora station based on this song by Of Montreal)
Magic Carpet (sitar folk from the 70s!)
Nirvana (1967) (the original nirvana! from britain – classic british 60s pop – a cult classic – see esp. the song Wings of Love… this makes a great vintage 60s pop station! but beware, you need to ask for “Nirvana (1967) or you’ll get the Kurt Cobain Nirvana….)
Mark Hollis (this brilliant and mercurial frontman from Talk Talk made a sublime, self-titled solo record… moody and perfect)
Jose Gonzalez (!!!!!! beautiful contemporary indie-folk stuff, subtle not sentimental. definitely one of my best-ofs this year…)
The Dirty Projectors (freaky low fi pop, blindingly brilliant. oh man.)
Goldspot (clean, smart pop from a new band that’s not that well known, yet…)
The Teeth (more great pop, sort of punkish, kinks-ish, totally excellent and original)
The Stares (a great new band from Seattle with strings and horns by the great Eyvind Kang)
Ghosts of Monkshood (very strange psych folk – from Oklahoma I think – very weird and wonderful)
Diane Cluck (nyc folk-innocent. so simple. so great.)
Vashti Bunyan (long lost folk lass from Britain, just released her second album, 30 years after her first!)
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (old school neo soul…)
Dungen (scandinavian epic psych-pop……. superb)
Black Sabbath (get your vintage Sabbath metal fix. never checked em out??? you should.)
Davy Graham (60′s acoustic folk)
Dr. Dog (more great interesting pop.)
well, I just know I’m forgetting a bunch more… you’ll let me know, though. of that I am certain……
yours,
mz

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the holidays fast approaching, we’ve been getting lots of requests for seasonal music. Tonight we’re rolling out an updated version of Pandora that will let you build your very own, personalized holiday stations.
To hear seasonal music on Pandora, just start by entering the name of a favorite holiday song (for example, “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow“). We’ll then ask you to pick your favorite version and we’ll create a station that will play other similar holiday music. While we’re not able to play that exact song immediately, it will play on your station eventually so keep listening!
If you’d rather start from an artist, just enter the artist’s name followed by the word holiday (for example, “Nat King Cole (Holiday)“). We’ll then use that input to build a holiday station based on the musical qualities of that performer’s holiday classics.
We’re busy adding more seasonal music everyday, so keep coming back and expect that your holiday stations will improve over the coming weeks.
Thanks for listening, and happy holidays from the whole crew here at Pandora.

Pandora : Version 2

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been just 9 weeks since we launched Pandora. In that time you’ve created over 1 million stations, starting from 70,000 unique songs and artists. I really can’t imagine a more gratifying response. Easily the best part of all of this has been interacting with many of you via email and in the blogosphere. Thanks for all the great product and music suggestions. It’s been a blast.
We’ve been busy working on the second version of Pandora and we’re launching today. We’re adding new features and an entirely new way to enjoy Pandora.
On the feature front, you’ve told us loud and clear that you want a way to keep track of the music you’re discovering on Pandora. So we’ve added a “favorites” feature that lets you add songs to your very own Pandora personal page. Just click on the album art when you hear a song you love and select “Add to Your Favorites Page” from the menu. Your favorites page is a great consolidated shopping list of all he music you’re discovering on Pandora. You can even share your personal page with friends — who knows maybe they’ll get the hint about what to get you the next time your birthday rolls around, There are easy links to Amazon and iTunes right on the page. We’ve also (finally) given you the ability to review and edit all of the work you’ve put into your stations. Just click the little triangle next to a station name and select “Edit this Station”. You’ll see all the feedback you’ve given (thumbs up/down) as well as the songs and artists you’ve added with the “Add More Kinds of Music” feature. Make changes till your heart’s content. You can even use this same feature to look at the definitions for stations that your friends have sent you. While those are the big, obvious new features, we’ve also been hard at work on playlist generation and we think you’ll find that Pandora does a better job now of responding quickly to your feedback and plays better musical mixes. This is a never-ending quest for us; expect playlists to get better each time we release a new version. That’s our core mission. This release we’ve made some very big strides with our Electronica playlists in particular. We think they’re much improved; let us know what you think! Finally we’ve been polishing up lots of little stuff throughout the interface. We think it’s the little things that matter, so we hope you like those changes too.
The other big piece of news is that we’ve opened the doors on an entirely new way to listen to Pandora. You see we’d planned to launch an ad-supported, free version of Pandora next year, but the sheer volume of new listeners that have found Pandora in the past 9 weeks led us to accelerate our timetable for offering the ad-supported, free version of Pandora. So, starting today, you have a choice: you can listen to ad-supported Pandora for free, or you can subscribe and experience an entirely ad-free version. It’s completely your choice. The service has exactly the same features either way. We’re still experimenting with the right way to bring advertising to Pandora, so you’ll notice us playing with different advertising forms over the coming months. We’d love to know what you think as we work through this. We’re dedicated to mixing advertising into the experience in a way that doesn’t detract from your music discovery experience.
So it’s been an incredible, busy, fun, exciting, exhausting, and thrilling couple of months here. We’re loving every minute of it. Thank you for being a part of it. As always, we love to hear your thoughts and critiques about what we’re doing. Please don’t hesitate to drop us an email or leave a comment here.
This is just the beginning. There’s lots of great stuff to come and we want your help in shaping the evolution of Pandora. It’s sure been a great collaboration so far.
-Tom
CTO @ Pandora
PS: For those of you in the Bay Area, we’re really hoping to meet you tonight at the first Pandora meetup. We hope you can make it!

We want to meet you! Nov 10th @ 6:30 in San Francisco.

Over the course of the last 8 weeks we’ve been introduced to an incredible group of Pandora listeners from all over the world. Whether it’s been here in the Pandora blog comments, via pandora-support@pandora.com, or out there in the blogosphere we’ve virtually “met” an amazing and passionate group of music lovers.
We think it would be fun to get some of our bay area listeners together to meet face to face. To that end, a bunch of the Pandora gang is going to head to Edinburgh Castle — a great Scottish pub in San Francisco — on Thursday, November 10th and we’d like for you to join us. We’ll be there at 6:30PM. It will be a low key thing; just a bunch of music lovers getting together to hang out.
Hopefully you’ll be able to come… we’d certainly love to have you there. Just RSVP with a comment to our blog to give us a sense of how many we can expect.
Details:
When: Thursday, Nov. 10th, 2005 @ 6:30
Where: Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary (between Polk & Larkin)
RSVP: Post a comment here
PS: Some of us are planning to go over to the Great American Music Hall afterwords for the Matt Nathanson concert. It turns out that he’s a great “Genome match” for a wide range of rock music inputs on Pandora, so we thought we’d head over to check out his live show. You’re very welcome to join us for that too if you’d like. Or not. Totally up to you.

“I just write the kind of music I want to hear on my car stereo.”

I’ve been thinking alot lately about the music ‘cool’ factor. What makes one artist ‘legit’ and another a ‘sellout’; one artist a ‘serious’ musician, another a ‘phony’? Why are people sometimes embarrassed about their music tastes? Fiona Apple’s “Tidal” was a masterpiece, but so was “Saturday Night Fever” and Celine Dion’s recording of “My Hear Will Go On.” Cat Stevens is a great songwriter, but so are Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond. So why are they treated so differently? As a practicing musician for many years I came to really appreciate what it takes to write a good song. From the ‘simple’ pop diddy, to the intricate rock opera. I have a deep respect for anyone who is able capture some kind of sound that resonates with an audience, however small. It’s incredibly difficult, and while some songs just don’t appeal to me, I’ll never knock the effort. And if an artist can sell millions of records, that’s nothing but goodness as far as I’m concerned.
I read a great article a few months back written by Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty (GQ Magazine, June 2005). He and his bandmates have apparently become something of a lightning rod for critics. It’s a very personal, honest article and a must read for anyone who cares about music. He talks about the bewilderment of being shunned in social settings and being the subject of constant ridicule in the general media, all because for some reason he’s found himself on the wrong side of cool:
“It’s not easy being in Matchbox Twenty. That’s the part of life that most people don’t know anything about – that when you turn on the TV and there’s someone making fun of people, they could be making fun of you. Whenever that happens I grip my seat and get that familiar dread, that ‘oh shit am I going to be part of that’ dread…”
The vulnerability of his response to being called a ‘watered down sellout’ reads in stark contrast to the vitriol directed towards him by so many people, none of whom had even met him: “I just write the kind of music I want to hear on my car stereo.”
I sometimes wonder what would happen if all music was published anonymously… Maybe with Pandora we can start a new trend of ignoring artist labels and shining the spotlight back on the music.

Pandora Scheduled Maintenance – 9/26/05 @ 10PM PT

We’re going to take Pandora off the air for a couple of hours tonight starting at approximately 10PM pacific time. We’ll be deploying upgraded systems to better meet the warm reception we’ve received. We’ll be back online around midnight.
Don’t get your hopes up, this isn’t the next major feature release of Pandora. Don’t worry though, we’ve heard your feedback and we’re hard at work on a bunch of great new stuff whose release is just around the corner. Stay tuned!
Tom
CTO @ Pandora
[Update: We're back! Have fun listening.]

CMJ @ Pandora Radio

While Michael got to spend last week at the amazing CMJ new music marathon in New York, Pandora’s engineering team was here in Oakland keeping the Pandora servers stocked with coal. From the sound of it, we missed a lot of amazing music.
Happily Pandora can give us a taste of what we missed… I just built a Pandora station that plays selections influenced by all of the artists Michael got to see at CMJ. Click this link to have a listen: CMJ @ Pandora Radio

From CMJ

On the plane heading back from the CMJ Conference in New York City (CMJ – College Media Journal – is an excellent resource for all things related to new music. They offer comprehensive college airplay charts, as well as reviews of tons of new music, plus they’ve also just started to offer “CMJ Radio” – http://www.cmj.com/radiocmj – which is powered by Pandora!).
I had an incredible time, heard some tremendous bands (plugs to follow below), and met lots of new pals. Thanks to everyone who came by and submitted music! Thanks to my neighbors at the PETA booth (that’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – check them out if you’re feeling altruistic, or do it for Fido’s sake if not your own…). And thanks to everyone who stopped by and listened to my little spiel and had such cool things to say about the radio stations.
A few highlights:
Tim and I met George Clinton and showed him “George Clinton Radio.” He dug it. He also grabbed an incredibly huge handful of candy from our bowl, which was somehow really interesting to me. I don’t know why.
Patti Smith walked by and looked right at me. Or through me, I don’t know.
I met John S. Hall AKA King Missile. Intelligent and gentlemanly, he was super cool, and forgave me even though I haven’t ordered his music yet. John, we’ll have it ALL by the end of September, including your solo record!
Music Highlights:
Kaki King at Joe’s Pub, Nouvelle Vague at Canal Room, Aqueduct and John Vanderslice at Mercury Lounge (by the way, John’s new record “Pixel Revolt” is incredible. His show was incredible. DO check him out and see him if he’s touring your way. You won’t be disappointed, He’s on the road now).
We saw The Most Serene Republic (best band name I’ve heard in a long time) at the Arts & Crafts showcase. It’s another Canadian deluge of cheery, colorful and very creative pop music. The Canadian Invasion is in full swing.
We saw a bit of Richard Buckner at Rothko, and best of all, Langhorne Slim, who was utterly and lovably tremendous at Sin-e. The show was a total revelation for me. Hilarious love songs, incredible vocals, and he’s a total showman… everyone should definitely see him, and check out his stuff in Pandora.
Thanks also to Mike for giving me an Arcade Fire ticket – the show was beyond belief. One of the greatest live shows I’ve seen in years. I am, however, a tragic figure: I left before the encore, which featured surprise guest David Bowie. Please never ever mention this to me or remind me of it again. I’m working hard to repress the memory.
Thanks to Steve from CMJ for coming by and making me feel welcome as well. It’s an incredible festival, people, if you can, you should go next year….
until next time,
Michael Zapruder

Pandora for Everyone

After a 5 week preview release, Pandora is now open to the public. We’d like to thank the thousands of people that helped us during the preview; we took all of your feedback to heart and were able to rev. the service based on your feedback. In particular the launch release includes several new features you told us you wanted:

  • Complete station history – scroll back and see all the songs played on your stations
  • Rate and buy any song – even after they finish playing
  • Quick access to song feedback (“I like this”, “I don’t like this”) from the song popup menu
  • Simplified “Guide Us” panel
  • An improved audio library
  • Enhanced station sharing features
  • A simple URL interface for creating stations from your blogs and websites (more on this later!)

There’s much more still to come — you’ve given us enough ideas to fill 10 releases!
The most gratifying thing about the past month for all of us at Pandora has been the opportunity to interact with all of you. We want to have the same kind of relationship with all of our listeners. Please don’t hesitate to send us an email (pandora-support@pandora.com) with your thoughts, feedback, ideas, and comments. We’re still listening!