Inside Song: Guitar Twang, Cookie Monster Vocals and Other Crucial Minutia

Twenty people are silently gathered around a table, heads bowed in concentration, listening closely.

“Did you hear it?”

“I feel like I heard it, but only in a couple tiny parts.”

“Really? I can totally hear it!”

“Wait, play it again, I’m not exactly sure what we’re listening for.”

“No, no, no! I’ve got the perfect example. Here, check this out.”

Someone else cracks open a laptop, starts playing a different song at the same time, people chime in with their opinions, voices and music overlap, it gets heated, and suddenly we’re in full-voiced debate like a mob of British Parliamentarians.

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Pandora’s Music Analyst Team

The burning issue at hand: identifying and scoring guitar twang. You know, that sproingy nasal boing of a plucked string, often associated with Country music. Twang can be produced through picking technique, by location of the pick on the neck, by the choice of pick-ups on the guitar, or by the amplifier in use. Each of those twangs sound a little different. And what about twang on the acoustic guitar? What if a steel-string guitar is used to pluck a few twangy notes now and then so you know that greater twang exists, even if it’s mostly strummed? The brain kind of fills in greater twang awareness during the less twangy strummed sections. How should we acknowledge brain twang? Read More →

Inside Song: Taking Off The Blindfold

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 2.32.45 PMOne of my favorite things is to hear a band for the first time without knowing a single thing about them, not even their name. It’s like having someone put a blindfold on me, lead me somewhere, then pull it off. I have to figure out where I am sonically, how I got there, what’s around the corners and behind the closed doors. It’s part detective work, part speculation, part historical research, part forensic analysis. The warm distortion on the drums in the intro sounds like analog tape; this song might be from the 60s or 70s. The fast, downstroke strumming and grit on the guitars is influenced by punk, but when the vocalist comes in, her full, smooth voice and abstract lyrics give it a more modern feel. The breathy synths that enter on the chorus sound like a tongue-in-cheek reference to New Wave, placing the song in the contemporary indie-pop realm. But I’m only a minute-forty-five into a four-minute song. Anything could happen. A scratchy, atonal viola solo could tilt the whole thing further away from the mainstream. Maybe when I go to look up the band, I’ll discover they’re from the 80s, in which case the synthesizer thing and the intentionally dirty production would be revealed as forward-thinking. As much information as I pick up along the way, I won’t really know anything until I’ve heard everything. Read More →

Discover More Music with Personalized Station Recommendations

Music discovery has always been at the heart of the Pandora experience and today we’re thrilled to announce the launch of personalized station recommendations on both iOS and Android mobile devices.

Pandora had 76.2 million people listening to 1.58 billion hours of music just last month alone. When you layer on the more than 35 billion pieces of thumb feedback we have received since launching in 2005, it equates to billions of data points right at our fingertips. These valuable insights into our listeners’ tastes provide us with a deep understanding of what people love about music and enables us to power the best personalized radio experience for each individual listener.

Up until now, we have primarily been focused on making behind-the-scenes improvements to the playlist experience and we’re excited about the opportunity to apply our same methodology to this brand new Pandora feature. Read More →

Android Listeners: Start the New Year (and Every Day of 2014) by Waking Up with Pandora

Happy New Year!

Last month we released a new version of our Pandora app for iOS that included a top-requested new product feature from our listeners: an Alarm Clock.  The response from listeners using the new Alarm Clock has been overwhelmingly positive and today I’m thrilled to share that we’re releasing version 5.1 for Android that will now allow listeners on Android smartphones to wake up to their favorite Pandora music as well.

Just like the one we built for iOS, the Alarm Clock for Android includes key features like the ability to easily snooze.  When the alarm goes off, your music will begin to play with album art scrolling in the background. At this point, you can choose to keep listening to your music simply by tapping the song title or artist name on your phone screen, snooze or turn off the alarm. There are also a few notable features that are unique to the Alarm Clock for Android, including the ability to customize how often your alarm repeats throughout the week. Since you don’t have to keep the Pandora app running in the foreground in order for the alarm to play music when it fires, the Alarm Clock for Android is easier than ever to use. Read More →

1 Million registered users in Australia

We are really excited to announce that we have officially hit 1 million registered users in Australia, in just under a year since we launched here. This means every 30 seconds someone new is discovering Pandora in Australia – and on average listening with us for over 2 hours a day!

Thanks to all our listeners for being with us. Come and join the conversation with me over on Twitter #PandoraAUS or facebook.com/pandora

Wake Up with Pandora: Introducing the Alarm Clock on Mobile

We think most folks would agree that waking up from a deep slumber to the tune of their favorite music almost always trumps the repetitive bleeping noise that typically comes out of an alarm clock.

In August, we unveiled a new way for Pandora listeners to fall asleep to their favorite stations with the Sleep Timer, and today I’m thrilled to share that we’re releasing a new version of our Pandora app for iOS that contains another top-requested new product feature from our listeners: an Alarm Clock.

The Alarm Clock allows you to wake up to your favorite Pandora music and includes key features like the ability to snooze. When the alarm goes off, your music will begin to play with album art scrolling in the background. At this point, you can choose to snooze, turn off the alarm, or keep listening to your music simply by tapping the song title or artist name on your phone screen.

01-drawer     03-alarm_set Read More →

Enjoy One-Touch Streaming of Pandora to your TV with Google Chromecast

As Pandora works to fulfill its mission to completely reinvent radio, we are always working on new ways to seamlessly deliver the best personalized radio experience in every possible listening environment.

Today, we’re excited to share that Pandora is now available on Chromecast, Google’s new TV-connected device that wirelessly delivers online audio and video entertainment to the biggest screen in the home.

pandora_chromecast_nowplaying_tvOwners of Chromecast can now wirelessly stream or Cast Pandora directly to the TV, using their smartphone or tablet as the remote control. Core Pandora functionality, such as Play, Pause, Thumb and Skip are all easily controlled via your mobile device for a seamless listening experience. The Pandora experience is delivered directly from the cloud to your TV, so once you send your favorite station to your TV, your mobile device is no longer required to keep the music going. Read More →

Debuting Now: The Pandora App for Android Tablets

Android listeners, listen up! Today we’re excited to unveil our latest version of Pandora, designed specifically for Android tablets, and available for download starting today via Google Play.

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Pandora now natively supports hundreds of different Android tablets and while we’ve long offered a mobile app for our Android listeners, Pandora 5.0 for Android optimizes the experience for larger tablet screen sizes and is built specifically with the tablet experience in mind. Features of Pandora 5.0 include enhanced playback and personalization, deeper music discovery and exploration, easy access to a personalized music profile and an easy way to connect and share music with friends. Read More →

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)

Read More →

Pandora Presents: Bridgit Mendler Live in Los Angeles

As Head of Music Partnerships at Pandora, a large part of my job is working with artists to coordinate live concerts and special events in an effort to fulfill Pandora’s central mission of connecting artists with their fans.  Pandora has been successfully doing this online for years, so it’s exciting to bring the experience to life offline.

18988_Pandora_Presents_Bridgit_Mendler_Poster_092513_R3I’m thrilled to share that this Saturday, Hollywood Records recording artist and actress, Bridgit Mendler, will be the latest to headline Pandora Presents, our live, personalized concert series.  The performance is taking place at The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles, hosted by recording artist Asher Monroe with an additional performance by Jake Miller.  The show is open to all Bridgit Mendler fans and free of charge, thanks to our strategic partnership with General Mills BFAST, Debrox and Trolli. Read More →