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.


Adding more music to your station is powerful. You can send your station off in a completely different direction with just a few new songs or artists. Remember, you’re not just saying: I like this song/artist so please play this more often. You’re also saying: play more songs in this style.
As it turns out, you may or may not want to hear more of that style. Maybe you like that artist because it reminds you of skipping classes in high school. (Def Leppard, in my case) Maybe your Dad used to play the artist’s records non-stop while you were growing up. (Oscar Peterson) Maybe their songs remind you of road trips with friends. (Holly Cole) Perhaps someone once sang the song to you as a lullaby? (‘Dear Prudence’ by The Beatles)
There’s all kinds of nostalgic and unique reasons for liking a song or an artist…but that may not mean that you want a whole slew of that style of music to play on your beloved and carefully crafted station! I get teased by our engineers for having such a trigger finger with feedback on my stations. I’m learning to sit still and not compulsively give my opinions to Pandora. I sit on my hands.
But remember, you can always change your station feedback and definition. Review and/or edit your station by going to the ‘Edit this station’ option for any station you built. (again, under the triangle next to your station name in the left menu) From there you can review the artists/songs you’ve added to the station as seeds and review the songs you marked as ‘liked’ and ‘disliked’. Clicking ‘remove’ next to one of these will set the feedback for it back to neutral.
You can also scroll back to rate past songs at any time, even after they’re done playing (as long as you haven’t closed the window yet). If you can still see them, you can still rate them.
Happy tuning!
cheers, Lucia
written while listening to:
Dave Brubeck Radio
(one of my few completely “pure” stations…this one requires no tinkering…just let it play.)

Comments

  1. john
    May 17, 2006 at 5:04pm
    children - get a life!! this is YOUR frankenstein. you have created it. if it's too purple or too dissonant or too ginger or too maryanne it's because YOU made it so. please, like lucia says, use the tools available to you to throw your own pot. me - i feel like rumplestiltsken, sitting here spinning a rabbitt into gold. (sorry, that was HAIR, not HARE, wasn't it). i'm happy as a clam listening to my monastery music hall on pandora. i've gone from 'les paul' to 'sun ra' to 'one ring zero' to 'mississippi john hurt' without even breaking a sweat. oh, lucia, i weep for our future.
    Reply
  2. Lucia @ Pandora
    May 17, 2006 at 5:18pm
    HA HA HA! Sooo funny. So many great metaphors in that comment, John! Rabbits into gold, oh man. Too funny.
    Reply
  3. timprov
    May 17, 2006 at 7:22pm
    How about "my station is too unwieldy for the interface"? I like having a big, hacked-up station, but it would be nice to just get a big list of songs in the station and thumbs up/down them en masse, rather than trying to do it real-time, since I'm usually trying to do six other things while listening. Essentially like the edit function that's aready there, but for the unrated songs.
    Reply
  4. gem
    May 17, 2006 at 8:02pm
    Hi, i just discovered Pandora, and .... it's flippin awesome!! thanks thanks thanks for making it... music to my ears!! haha peace :D
    Reply
  5. robert
    May 17, 2006 at 9:40pm
    I wonder how many users don't use the station tuning-tools because they are mysterious. By mysterious I mean whether they work (a) at all, (b) whether they work at the station level or the user level (my big question) and (c) how one can review what they have done and remedy it. By remedy I mean see what impact their tuning has had. For example, if a thumbs up is given to xyz artist what music did that introduce into my station. Clearly it would help users experiment (i.e., use the system) if they better understood what effect was caused by an action. Right now there's a disconnect. Don't get me wrong, I quite like what you folks are doing, I just think you could make your job a lot easier if you focused on how people use, or don't, use the features. Good luck. r
    Reply
  6. Richard Cooper
    May 17, 2006 at 9:49pm
    I'm not above believing that my problems with Pandora are simply user error, but there are a few things worth noting: I expressed a desire for some sort of guide on how I should rate songs way back in November, but this is the most that has come along so far. Since November I've tried everything I could think of, creating the same stations over and over again simply to apply different rules with respect to what feedback I give, but with virtually the same song selection regardless. In fact, I've even tried giving feedback that's exactly the opposite of my opinion and even that seems to result in a similar quality of song selection. Different songs play, but the ratio of the ones I like to the ones that I don't like remains the same. However, perhaps the most important thing to note about what you've said is this: My problem isn't that my stations play too much variety or that they play too little variety, the problem is that they do both. My stations play a wide variety of exactly what I don't like and little variety of what I do like. I find myself wishing Pandora would play less variety so that I don't have to hear these uninteresting songs all the time, but at the same time, I wish it would play more variety so that I can hear something besides these uninteresting songs all the time. Two different complaints, exactly the same problem. Over the last six months I've found over a hundred songs on Pandora that I like. They're all similar in different ways, but creating a station and getting Pandora to play more than a dozen of them via feedback alone is impossible. It'll easily go from playing an upbeat fast tempo Jump5 song with punk and disco influences to playing a slow depressing song with plain rock instrumentation and a plain rock sound, but getting it to play that other upbeat fast tempo Jump5 song with punk and disco influences is nearly impossible. What's worse, I can thumb down a dozen of those slow depressing songs in a row and still get to listen to a dozen more of them. I think what's going on here is that people who aren't as picky about the music they like are natrually loving Pandora since they'd be happy listening to almost anything. So here's a test for everyone who loves Pandora's song selection: Create a station and rate all songs exactly the opposite of how you currently rate them. If Pandora begins playing only music that you totally dislike, then it is working correctly. If Pandora contines to play music that you like then it is obviously broken. I haven't the time to go into infinite detail as I need to go to bed, but if you're still not convinced something is wrong, create a "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" station and listen to it for a while, and when you finally hear "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" try to figure out how it fits into the station. It's somewhat of a mystery. The song's Genome data is correct; what I see when I click "why did you play this song" is what I like about the song, but the song selections are simply 90% wrong and no amount of feedback seems to correct it, many of them don't even mention one of the same things in "why did you play this song," the sole exception being "punk influences" which I see a lot but which I disagree with. I believe Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride only has subtle punk influences. Many people would probably insist it's as far from punk as a song could be, but something I can't put my finger on definately sounds like punk to me. So, anyway, I don't doubt it works well for many people. I just don't believe that the rest of us simply don't know what we're doing. If anything I'd say it's because there's thousands of good punk songs if you like punk songs, but only a few Jump5 songs if you like Jump5 songs. It's easier to find songs that someone likes when a larger percentage of the songs that you have are songs that they like. I'm not saying that Pandora should know what I like from just one song input, but that it only knows what others like from one song input due to simple luck of them liking what Pandora pays most attention to. Something is wrong with the song selection when I can give feedback on 250 songs and I still don't have better song selection than when I first created the station. (In fact, if you try this, it gets far worse until you get to your 200th song or so.) It's http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh26000414 if you don't believe me. Look at the 30 songs that have been thumbed up and tell me they aren't completely different from the 220 I thumbed down. I really do need to go to sleep, so I'm sorry if this doesn't make as much sense as it could.
    Reply
  7. Lucia @ Pandora
    May 17, 2006 at 10:43pm
    Hello, Lucia here. I certainly never meant to imply that any bad stations are the fault of the user. That's definitely not the case! I figured my musings on what I've learned about using the Pandora feedback system might be helpful to others, as it has been in private emails. There's information on the tuning of stations in our FAQ, but I thought I'd flesh it out a little, as it's something I spend a lot of time thinking about! We know there's lots of things to work on to make Pandora better, and we are working on them all the time. Your feedback helps us, and we are grateful for that; we take listener feedback very seriously. ** Robert: All feedback is station-specific only. You can review and/or edit your station by going to the 'Edit this station' option for any station you built. (under the triangle next to your station name in the left menu) Clicking 'remove' next to one of these will set the feedback for it back to neutral. It's not mapped out how exactly each piece of feedback affects your station, but that's a good suggestion. ** Richard: I'm sorry that your stations aren't turning out how you want them to! That's very frustrating, and I salute you for continuing to work on them. In the morning I'll look into your station(s) and confer with my colleagues, and we'll see if we can't work with you to mold a station that won't hurt your ears. :) We'll get back to you here in the comments, or via email.
    Reply
  8. JJZ
    May 18, 2006 at 6:32am
    The "repeated over a few days of listening" comment seemed interesting to me. Because I've found songs would repeat in a few hours generally.
    Reply
  9. blah
    May 18, 2006 at 8:37am
    Is it possible to play our favorites a lil bit more often?
    Reply
  10. Szilvia Seiben
    May 18, 2006 at 9:27am
    Hi! I like your radio and listen to it often. My only comment so far is: I would prefer if you give more variety of choice to rate the song played than I like it or not. Some of them I wouldnt say directly I dont like it, they are pleasent, but I dont like them as much as the ones I mark I like it. Actually the ones I mark with I like in reality I love and really would like them to be played more often. An 5 leveled rating would be more appropriate. A question: Is there any way to request particular songs. If not, are you thinking of making it possible? Yours faithfully, Szilvia
    Reply

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