For over 12 years now we have been carefully and deliberately assembling the music that streams on Pandora. The Music Genome Project collection now includes over 100,000 artists, the majority of them independent, spanning hundreds of genres. It is a great point of personal pride for me, and for all of us here at Pandora that over 95% of these artists stream every month on the service.
Over the years the Pandora office has had the great pleasure of receiving visits from many of these talented musicians and comedians. Some are well-established artists in town for a major show, others are in the middle of a grassroots tour, hitting coffee houses and small clubs up and down the West Coast (something I remember doing myself for many years).
Sometimes we just meet up to show them around the office and learn about their careers, other times our employees are treated to a short performance. We also take the opportunity to show them the Music Genome Project and walk them through an analysis of their music, along with some data on their audience on Pandora. It’s been fun to see their reaction when they learn which songs are the most “thumbed up” or how large their audience is, and what areas around the country are particularly enthusiastic for their sound (we’ll be posting some more detail on that soon).
We’ve been doing this very informally for a while, but as the shows have grown in popularity both internally and externally, we recently decided to put some more effort into the programming. Earlier this year we started taping some of our in-office performances, and we gave them a name: the Whiteboard Sessions. The performances take place in front of a giant whiteboard in a common area of our office. On the day of the show one of our designers creates a unique drawing to represent each artist on the white board, which becomes the backdrop for the performance. If you follow us on social media you may have seen some photos from these performances.
The Whiteboard Sessions are unique because the daytime office environment calls for a different kind of performance than what people normally see at concerts. These sessions are mostly acoustic and there is a lot of interaction with the crowd. And there’s lots of improvising too – recycling bins become percussion instruments. There’s really nothing quite like an intimate, un-plugged show, up close and personal. …