Sunday, August 2, 2009

Music: Pandora - Personalized Internet Radio

Internet Radio

I got a Blackberry a while back, and on my way back from Florida I was messing around with a new application that I downloaded. The goal was to use my Blackberry as a music player so I could ditch my iPod. So, scanning the new Blackberry apps one day, I came across the
Pandora application for Blackberry. On the way back from Florida, I tuned into the new App to see if I'd like it.

Pandora starts you off by having you name an artist you like, and then it plays that artist and other similar artists thus presenting a "personalized" radio station for you. I was skeptical. I figured sure, you put in "The Beatles" and it also plays the "Rolling Stones" -- even though everyone who knows anything about music knows that there are "Beatles people" and "Stones people" -- and they're very different groups.

I put in Ani DiFranco because while she's one of a dozen female singer/songwriter that came out of the late 90's -- she's has a unique style in what she does. Simply put, she's got a bit of an angry streak, and she flat tears up the guitar. I especially like that about her.

In short, almost 3 hours of listening later, I was sold. Pandora uses a database from their Music Genome Project to categorize the songs it plays for you. It then asks you to rate each song and analyzes your picks to fine tune the songs it selects for you. This, then, creates a personalized radio station that plays songs that you've already said you liked and adds similar songs to see if you like those. Very cool. It'll even explain to you why it picked the songs it picked. It says stuff like this:
Based on what you've told us this far, we're playing this song because it features folk roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, acoustic sonority, and extensive vamping.
Funny.. I thought I liked Ani because she can flat tear up a guitar.. but yeah, all that stuff is good, too.

Pandora is one of several similar internet-based radio sources that you can try. Here's a big run-down of the service on Tradevibes. It has a list of competitors on the site, too, so if Pandora doesn't do it for you -- look around.

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