Recent Articles

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,…
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No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 6

Welcome to another list of Friday finds that are:
1. worth listening to
2. probably not being featured elsewhere at the moment
3. would be mainstream if there were such a thing…
Go here to see the great stuff featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, and Volume 5.
First off this week:
The Empty Boat by Caetano Veloso. I looked for this record for a few years and finally found a copy. I love Caetano Veloso, and had heard that this record, which he recorded in prison (the backing tracks were added later) is early work that’s partly in English. This particular song is mesmerizing and sad, repetitive and dark, with an ostinato acoustic guitar riff embellished with all kinds of minimal and subtle reeds, percussion sounds, and the like. It expands into more of a classic early 70’s fuzz guitar freakout. Contains the line: “My hand is empty from the wrist to the nail….”


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No Mainstream Fridays! Vol. 5

Hello and welcome to Volume 5 of “No Mainstream Fridays,” my weekly listing of songs that are:
1. worth listening to
2. probably not being featured elsewhere at the moment
3. would be mainstream if there were such a thing…
Go here to see the great stuff featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4.
Ezra Pound said “poetry is news that stays news.” So is music, and in that spirit, here are some songs and bands from past and present that merit headlines…
This week’s news:
Hoover Factory by Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Somehow, amidst all the others, Elvis C has sort of been my center of the wheel, and this 1:46 song was (and maybe still is) my favorite choice gem of them all. When I was in my early teens, this song fascinated me endlessly. It sounds faster to me now than it did then (how trite and symbolic!) A slice of b-side heaven for everyone….


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Your Favorites……and your research guide

As we’ve discussed, when you thumbs up a song, that act changes the station you’re listening to. Your Favorites, however, is a place to “bookmark” songs so that you can keep track of them for later. This will not change your stations one bit; it only keeps a list of songs so you don’t have to write down song or artist names on (gasp) paper. These two features are complementary, but distinct.
Favoriting a song (do this by clicking on the album art) will not alter your station, and thumbs upping a song will alter your station, but it will not keep a handy, printable list for you. Sometimes, you may want to thumbs up and favorite a song. That way you can mold your station while keeping track of the song for later reference. Whee, we’re geekin’ now!
“Favorites” is kind of a misnomer for me. These songs aren’t necessarily my favorites; I use it as more of a To-Research List. I add songs to my Favorites list when I like the song, sure. I’ve got five pages of Oh Wow, This Is A Great Song. But I also add songs to my Favorites page because I’m busy when the song comes on, and I really just want to research it later.


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Care and feeding of your stations

Two comments we get now and again here at Pandora headquarters are these:
1. My station is too boring; it doesn’t play enough variety
2. My station is too varied; it plays too many different styles
I am here to tell you that these issues are fairly easy to remedy.
1. For more variety on your stations, add more music!
Click on either ‘Guide Us’ [for the station you’re currently listening to] or on the triangle next to the station name in the left-hand menu [for any station, any time] and choose to ‘Add more music.’
2. For more tightly controlled stations that don’t stray too much, don’t add too many artists, songs, or thumbs ups; every time you add more music your station reaches out in another direction. Me, I like that. You, you may not.
Personally, I’ve got both kinds of stations. Some are vanilla and some are seasoned beyond recognition. The “purer” stations have hardly any station seeds and only a few, if any, thumbs ups. On these “pure” stations I hear some of the same songs repeated over a few days of listening, and I get a more controlled station that actually sticks to a specific style of music. My wildest station, and my favorite, Radio Lucia, has maybe sixty seeds and oodles of individual thumb opinions. It represents decades of musical styles, and many many hours of listening and tinkering on my part. I get lots of surprises. I rarely hear the same song twice, even with weeks of listening.


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