Ever listened to the radio and found yourself wanting to repeatedly smack your head against the dashboard when a station plays the same 20 songs again and again? Or been suddenly confronted by the realization that you’re listening to a Christian radio station when the musician suddenly starts wailing about Jesus?
That doesn’t happen on Pandora, “a new kind of radio—stations that play only music you like.” Pandora was born from the Music Genome Project, which started in 2000 when a group of musicians and technologists undertook “the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.” They created a list with hundreds of musical attributes and classified tens of thousands of songs according to this list.
When you sign up for a Pandora radio station—which is free—you enter the names of songs and artists you like and your station plays these songs and artists, along with new songs and artists that share certain musical qualities. You can give songs a thumbs up, indicating you’d like to hear more like it, or a thumbs down, and the song will never again be played on your Pandora station. And as you discover more musicians you like, you can add these artists to your station.
Pandora provides detailed information of each song and artist played on a station, and provides a link where the music can be purchased. Many Pandora users have multiple stations reflecting different music themes, and users are allowed up to 100 different stations. Users also have the option of listening to other people’s stations, or sharing their own with their friends via a “share” button.