Pandora Blog

Michelle Solomon on #MusicologistMonday

It was predestined that I was going to be in love with music from the get-go. My parents were both immersed in the progressive, bustling music scenes of the ‘60s and ‘70s. My dad was a San Francisco hippie who played music during the Summer Of Love. My mom emigrated from Mexico to LA’s San Fernando Valley; as a teenager she fawned over The Monkees, The Doors and Thee Midniters. My dad built out a very ample LP collection that included San Francisco stalwarts Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish and Moby Grape along with such British Invasion staples as The Beatles, Donovan and The Who. Whether on turntable, tape deck or Discman, music never got lost in my upbringing and education. During college I fell into San Francisco State University’s music department and enjoyed semesters playing piano, singing in operas and musicals. I also savored lectures about the history of rock ‘n’ roll, the roots of jazz and music of the world’s peoples. I took what I learned and applied it to my first job out of college working at a local record shop where research, discovery and sharing between employee and customer were heavily encouraged. Suffice to say; my path to Pandora was firmly rooted.

That record shop job led me to Pandora almost ten years ago, just a few months after the service first launched and the company was still a startup. I remember visiting the site for the first time and creating my first Pandora station: “Michelle” by The Beatles, naturally. I was blown away by the rad tunes that were being selected for me as well as the product’s innovative concept and interface. And as someone who thrives on discovery, it was a match made in heaven and I wanted desperately to be a part of it. I began at Pandora as an assistant to the company’s sole music buyer and along with him and my current manager, established the Curation department from scratch. As one of Pandora’s Lead Curators I’m a music generalist specializing in a variety of genres — pop, jazz, CCM, soundtracks, showtunes, children’s, new age, obscure classic rock, garage punk and soul reissues. I relish in the idea of unearthing the latest mega pop sensation, outrageous music trend or talented throwback artist (like Leon Bridges or Ryley Walker).

Outside of work, I’m a hardcore collector of LPs and 45s and enjoy spinning my wax out at various local dives, sharing my passion for mid/late ‘60s garage punk, psych, Northern soul, Motown and the underrated Rolling Stones or Kinks album track. What I love most about being a DJ and Curator is seeing how a song can evoke an emotion or feeling — be it nostalgia, sentiment — even a head-bop or hip-shake. It’s hard to imagine my life without music and I’m excited to continue researching, acquiring and connecting new music with you, the listener. I think David Crosby said it best when he sang, “Everybody’s sayin’ that music is love.” And ain’t that the truth!