Inside the Collection: Love, Loss and Mix-Tapes

I was a teenage skater, which back in the eighties meant I didn’t meet many girls. But there was one – Brynn was what we affectionately called a “Skate-Betty.” She stood out from the others with her sun-bleached bowl-cut, hi-top Vans, a flannel tied around her waist and a warm California smile that gave me the courage to ask her out. We instantly bonded on music. She was into many of the same Skate Rock bands that I listened to like JFA and Agent Orange. But she also turned me on to stuff I’d never heard before like Voivod and Reagan Youth.

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Do you remember the first mix-tape you made for a crush? What about the opposite – a mix that you curated following a heart-bludgeoning break-up? As we approach Valentine’s Day, it’s easy for me to flashback to the very first amorous mix that I recorded…and my first break-up tape. Allow me to share a few of the lessons that I learned from building those mixes.

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Introducing Pandora’s Open Music Submission Process: Getting Your Music Heard

curation picAt Pandora, our central mission is connecting artists with listeners who will love their music. Our goal is to enable every talented artist to reach the audience they deserve, without regard to the style of their music or their popularity.

When it comes to access and promotion, enormous hurdles have always confronted musicians and comedians, especially independent or self-releasing artists, in getting an equal opportunity to be heard. This is why I’m thrilled to introduce our new open music submission process. Read More →

Inside The Collection: Songs Of Change

MLK Day never fails to find us reflecting on Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. As a lifelong record collector, musician and now Music Curator for Pandora – it also reminds me how the birth of the Civil Rights Movement was a groundbreaking time in music. It was a time that inspired songwriters of many genres to pen some of the most powerful and beautiful songs in the history of recorded music. During this part of the 1960s and 1970s, Gospel, Folk, Rock, Funk, Soul, Blues and even Jazz included musicians singing about themes of freedom and equal rights.

To commemorate this incredibly important time in history, we’ve made a Pandora Mix Tape: Songs Of Change.

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As much as I dig all kinds of new music, it’s the songs recorded during this time that tend to populate most of my music collection – my Pandora profile alone is telltale proof of my love for the classics. My generation’s musicians are lucky in that they never had to muse on the draft or the kinds of segregation that existed in the past.

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Inside the Collection: 2013 In Music

With 2014 around the corner, let’s rewind through 2013 to capture some of the most memorable musical moments with our End of Year genre stations.

2013 Top Pop

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Pop music reached record popularity in 2013 with the help of gigantic crossover hits from Rock, R&B, Hip Hop and Dance. Check out 2013 Top Pop for the biggest Pop chart-toppers on Pandora. It was a very good year for TV alums, veteran Justin Timberlake and newcomer Ariana Grande both made a huge splash. Beyond all the hype, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez delivered with the biggest hits of their career. And of course one of the most anticipated releases of the year was from One Direction, following their multi-monster singles. Finally, leading up to his 2014 Superbowl performance, Bruno Mars proved to be a superstar with the energetic “Locked out of Heaven” and “Treasure” to the more emotional “When I Was Your Man”. Read More →

From the Curators: Holiday Music Everyone Can Agree On

Long before the inception of Pandora, I can vividly recall the very first thumbs-down that I gave to a song. It also happened to be my first time butting heads with my parents on musical taste. It was Christmas of 1980 and my father had just dropped the hi-fi needle on a scratchy 45-rpm copy of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “A Night To Remember.” Even though I was only nine-years-old, I knew before the first chorus that I didn’t like his voice.

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“What is this?” I asked. My father replied, “It’s my favorite Christmas song by Engelbert Humperdinck.” I remember suddenly laughing uncontrollably.

“What? What’s so funny?” My dad demanded. “That’s not his real name,” I insisted. Now my father’s face was starting to redden as he retorted, “The man has a terrific voice. He’s English…just like The Beatles!” Read More →

From the Curators: Música Navideña on Pandora

In response to listener feedback we’ve grown our Latin Christmas offering this year.  We are pleased to feature some of the most requested music of the season, guaranteed to bring joy and happiness to all of your December celebrations. There’s nothing quite like celebrating Christmas by indulging in the vast repertoire of recorded holiday music, evoking sweet nostalgia and memories of family and friends.

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Navidad Latina offers a mix of Latin genres and artists, from up-tempo dance tracks to more subdued interpretations of classic Latin American Christmas music. There’s a little something for everybody here – you’ll find artists such as Luis Miguel, José Feliciano, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Jerry Rivera.

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From the Curators: New Holiday Music For 2013

Nothing gets me in the spirit like the right song and by spirit I mean holiday spirit. I’m always refreshed to hear new eclectic interpretations of favorite holiday songs. This year, there’s sure to be something to satisfy the holiday music fan in your life: from Pop to R&B, Punk to Classical. If you’d like a sampling of 2013’s newest holiday releases, check out our Today’s Christmas station.

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Two of 2013’s most anticipated Christmas albums come from chart-topping women. Pop sensation Kelly Clarkson’s debut holiday collection Wrapped In Red contains five original songs, including the single “Underneath the Tree.” Also releasing her first holiday collection is R&B singer Mary J. Blige. Blige’s A Mary Christmas features guests like Michael Buble, Rod Stewart and Barbra Streisand  is sure to bring on the Christmas cheer.

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From the Curators: Pandora’s Guide to Holiday Listening

You may ask yourself, “Am I the only one that becomes totally obsessed with Christmas music?” Rest assured you are not alone – welcome to the holiday season at Pandora! Every year we see a tremendous spike in holiday music listening, and it has not gone unnoticed by the curators here at Pandora. We invite you to get into the spirit with some of familiar favorites and new holiday station additions.

To check out a full list of Pandora’s holiday-themed genre stations visit: http://www.pandora.com/music/holiday.

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Christmas is by far the most popular holiday station, featuring all of the classic holiday tunes. Listeners have also been enjoying holiday music across a wide variety of genres such as Classical Christmas, Country Christmas and R&B and Pop Holidays. This year you can also celebrate the holidays with Indie Holidays, Rockin’ Holidays or Family Christmas.

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From the Curators: Celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah 2013 With Pandora

It won’t happen again for 70,000 years. Thanksgiving 2013 has a special twist; Hanukkah begins on Thanksgiving this year, some are referring to this occasion as “Thanksgivukkah.” Naturally, Pandora curators have taken advantage of this once-in-an-eternity opportunity to commemorate these two popular family holidays, both of which focus on gratitude. What better way to celebrate and say thank you than with music?

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We have two genre stations fitting for the occasion, both of which have been spiced up for 2013. Thanksgiving Day Radio can be your soundtrack during the day, whether you’re relaxing or cooking, and Hanukkah Radio can be the accompaniment to dinner.

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From the Music Genome Project: The Anatomy of A Scary Soundtrack

It’s a familiar scene: lights low, popcorn in hand, you hear something; your heart begins to race, your brow sweats, you grip into the armrest of the plush theater seat. The knife-wielding psychopath finally bursts into the scene, accompanied by a dissonant musical crescendo.

While most film composers probably do not have a clinical understanding of the human brain, the great ones have figured out how to manipulate our most primitive fight or flight responses. Paired with just the right visuals certain sounds and pitch combinations can involuntarily cause us to experience physical reactions that one would expect in moments of real life stress. In the spirit of Halloween, we thought we’d take a look at some of the musical devices that are used in scary movies to elicit the fear response.

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Mastering the art of suspense is the first key to creating a scary soundtrack. When used in the right context, music can create a psychological state of dread and set the listener up for the inevitable startle effect. Avoiding melody altogether, instead relying on long tones or using short, repetitive melodic fragments can lead the listener to feel anxious. John Williams‘ theme to Jaws, with its famous two note motif is a perfect example, as is the theme to the Halloween films, which features a looping, ten note pattern that keeps listeners in a state of anticipation. (A little horror movie trivia: John Carpenter, who directed the Halloween movies, also wrote the theme)

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