Monday 19 September 2005This is close to 18 years old. Be careful.

A co-worker showed me Pandora today. It’s an online music service for finding new music. You give it a song or an artist, and it creates a “radio station” of songs similar to yours. As it plays songs, you can give them thumbs up or down to adjust the heuristics. When you give a song a thumbs-down, it skips the song, unless you’ve given too many thumbs-downs. In that case, it continues playing the song, and adds helpfully:

Unfortunately, our music licenses force us to limit the number of songs you may skip each hour.

Odd. If you start with an artist, the first song is by that artist. If you start with a song, it doesn’t start by playing the song, explaining that their music licenses prevent them from playing specific songs by request. Very odd.

I tried it all day today. I thought it did a very good job picking songs I would like, including a couple of dozen artist I had never heard of. The first ten hours are free, and then you have to pay, but the rate is the very reasonable $36 per year. I think I’ll be subscribing.


Pandora seems to lack a lot of features that has.

I've been using (formerly known as audioscrobbler) for a year now and the short way I have to define it is: "an orkut for music".

Every user populates it's musical profile automatically using plugins for popular desktop media players so the site keeps track of everything you listen, being able to make recommendations, show musical "neighbours", that is, other users with similar music taste, and so on.

It's really fun to browse similar artists on it even if you don't have a profile.
That's an interesting UI. I've said it many times to friends and family and I'll say it again- here's a strong plug for's music section. For the purposes of finding both a) similar artists to those you like (well known or not) and b) fresh new material, I haven't come across anything better. There are more genres you can shake a stick at, searchable by both genre and city/country of origin. It's all free, giving the artists a chance to get known but there are also songs by signed artists as well.
Neat database of what identifies an artist's style, but their site didn't really give me a reason to convert to using Pandora. I've used Yahoo Music since the original Launch "personalized radio" days, and from a quick scan of features, Yahoo Music Unlimited (YMU) offers the same things, but I can also pick any song or any album to play at any point, albeit for a couple of dollars a month more. I'm generally very happy with YMU -- I've even taken soundtracks from films, and in a few minutes, pulled together a YMU playlist of the same songs, so the catalog is big enough that I'm happy.
Hi Ned,

Thanks for having a listen to Pandora. One of the core ideas behind music licensing for online "radio" products is that an online radio product can't provide "song on demand". Artist on demand? Sure. Song on demand, no. Basically the idea is to keep you buying albums. So while we can play something by an artist when you start from an artist, we can't do the same for songs. We can play a similar song by the artist if we find a few that are similar.

At any rate, glad you're listening. Hope you find some stuff you like.


CTO @ Pandora

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