Pandora – Build your own radio station

screenshot of Pandora music playerI know has existed for a while now, but I’ve just recently given it a try and thought I’d share with the rest of you. If you don’t know, is a website where you get to set up your own radio channels. The idea is that you tell it what you like and Pandora will find other things it thinks you might also like. You can also tell it if you don’t like something, but I’ve only had to do that once so far. It’s pretty amazing actually.

How they come up with suggestions is based on research conducted by the Music Genome Project.

It’s the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Together our team of fifty musician-analysts have been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound – melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics … and more – close to 400 attributes!

I started the process by choosing Del McCoury as my favorite artist. Pandora then chose other artists it thought I might like and played tracks off their CDs for me. Pretty cool. It played a Monroe number, then Wildwood Valley Boys, Hot Rize, Tim Stafford, Del, and on it goes. Like I said it’s only played one track I didn’t like so far (I’m not telling you what it was.). While it’s playing you can see the artwork, song title, album title, artist name, etc. All that is clickable and will open a new window with more info, related songs, and links to purchase the music from iTunes or Amazon.

You can listen to about 10 tracks just to try the service without registering. After that you’ll have to register, which is free if you’re willing to tolerate the ads. Otherwise you can pay for the service, banishing the ads forever. $36 a year to get rid of the ads. Your choice. The visual ads are not in the way at all, especially since I’ve tended to keep the window with Pandora hidden while doing other work, only clicking over to rate a song one way or another. The service mentioned audio ads between songs, but I’ve yet to hear one.

Another great feature is that you can have multiple channels. So you could set up a traditional bluegrass channel, a contemporary bluegrass channel, and a rock channel.

It’s really more akin to a friend telling you about some great music you should hear than it is a radio station. It’s just more customized to your listening preferences. I’m impressed. Give it a try and see for yourself.