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. Lisa
    May 31, 2006 at 11:39am
    My husband showed me the article about Pandora in PC magazine a couple of days ago and my first thought was "Oh goodie, someone who will understand my off-the-beaten-track tastes!" Well, yes and no... I've been having a lot of fun playing with it, I love the interactive nature of it and use the thumbs up/down feature quite a bit, and keep trying to add artists and songs. I like hearing new things and am not bound by narrow categories, so it's kind of exciting waiting to see what it will come up with next. The biggest frustration for me is that 90% of the artists I like are not in the music banks. I have yet to find a single African artist that Pandora has heard of, and the worldbeat repertoire in general is severely limited. Since this is the bedrock of my musical taste, it makes it kind of difficult. I have seeded it with various latin and brazilian artists as well as some pop songs that have a strong worldbeat influence, and with a lot of tinkering and editing, I've been getting some positive and interesting results within the scope of what Pandora has in its banks, but it always seems to want to bring me back into a more mainstream pop sound when I really want to go the other direction. I'm hoping that you will be broadening the musical base in the near future. Another thing that would be helpful is if there were a way to say what you liked or disliked about a particular song. I realize this could get pretty unwieldy, but if it were just broken down into a) instrumental arrangement, b) vocals, c) tempo, and d) other, that would help a lot. Several times Pandora has come up with songs that I like the instrumentals a lot but hate the vocals, and I'd kind of like to encourage the one and not the other. Anyway, I can see that it's a work in progress, so I just wanted to encourage you to keep working on it!
    Reply
  2. Arena
    May 31, 2006 at 5:27pm
    Great Article Lucia! I really enjoy reading your posts -- I was explaining this to a friend the other day when she commented how much she loves her Pandora stations but they can get monotonous ... she's now adding more music to them, but I think you've explained in much more detail than I did in our little exchange that went something like this. "o, you can add more songs to the station" "really, awesome!" and then we talked about music and all the great bands we've discovered. keep writing posts -- I might just fire up my rss reader. :)
    Reply
  3. mary
    June 09, 2006 at 10:10am
    Please, Lucia, add some Cape Verdean music. It is some of the most beautiful music in the world - ever (i.e., Cesaria Evora, Mayra Andrade, Bana). Go to caboverde.com.
    Reply
  4. Lauren
    June 09, 2006 at 11:44am
    Hey, I just found Pandora, and it's a really cool concept. I was just wondering if you consider thematic elements in the song when matching songs. I fed the station Toby Keith's "Whiskey Girl", which I love. The station then played me another Toby Keith song "As Good As I Once Was", which is musically similar, but I can't stand the lyrics to the song. I gave it a thumbs-down, but then the station stopped playing upbeat country songs....Anyway, just curious.
    Reply
  5. Jared
    June 09, 2006 at 1:05pm
    Check out Public Property, an excellent reggae influenced band from Iowa City, Iowa! Go to www.publicprop.com to hear some of their music.
    Reply
  6. Kristie
    June 09, 2006 at 1:58pm
    Over the last month or so since I've heard about pandora I tell everyone I know with a computer cause in such short amount of time I've found over a hundred different artist that I can add and you have been able to find everyone I have typed in if not uner artist then under song title so just cause you didn't find someone try a song by that artist it's not let me down. I'm just so amazed and impressed with pandora I can't believe I'm just hearing about it. I could of never had the music bumping to all the music I like on any radio station or XM satilite station. Lets face it taking the time to load music you like into an Ipod just don't compare for us people who don't have that kind of time searching for each and ever little song we like. It could take me forever to do it that way. Pandora is easy fast and in no time your listening to the music you like without searching all over the web. Pandora the one stop shop for everone!!!
    Reply
  7. Stephen
    June 09, 2006 at 6:53pm
    I'm casting another vote for Stuart Davis. Check out stuartdavis.com and get his music on your site. You won't be sorry.
    Reply
  8. Bill Woods
    June 11, 2006 at 2:03am
    I personally would rate more songs if the ratings were finer-grained, and the consequences of a thumbs-down less drastic. Say on a 0-10 scale, where 10 meant 'play this every other song--at least', and 0 meant 'erase this from your database--for everyone, not just me'. 'Thumbs up' would be about an 8, 'I'm tired of this' about a 3, and 'thumbs down' about a 1. Are you familiar with Alexandria Digital Literature (http://www.alexlit.com)? There seems to be some resemblance, in a different field.
    Reply
  9. Stephen
    June 12, 2006 at 11:10am
    For the past few days, whenever I've tried to access the definition of a shared station there is no info displayed- it''s all blank. I hope this will be corrected soon?
    Reply
  10. Dennis Mattai
    December 29, 2007 at 11:23am
    I'm interested in reading the lyrics when a song captures my interest. Any way to do this through Pandora instead of having to surf outside the web site?
    Reply

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