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Pandora's music box

Pandora's music box

The recent Slashdot mention of Pandora reminded me to check out the Web site. The music streaming service, which was first mentioned on CNET in Tom Merritt's The Real Deal, was developed by the Music Genome Project and offers a unique method of music personalization. When you visit the simple yet intriguing Flash-based site, you're asked to enter an artist or song. The Pandora engine then creates a radio station based on your seed selection and other songs that have a similar "genetic" code or, in other words, songs that share the same sonic qualities, mood, harmonics, rhythms, and spirit. The typical custom online radio station devises playlists based on information such as artists, genres, or data that is collected from users (that is, other listeners bought...). Pandora's selection is based on hundreds of musical attributes that give each song its uniqueness. Pandora currently has 300,000 songs and 10,000 artists in its database.

I was initially amused but later realized that I had been introduced to several new songs and artists that I actually liked and wanted to purchase. My seed artist was Goldfrapp, classified as "featuring mellow rock instrumentation, electronica influences, new age influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, and repetitive melodic phrasing." Wow. For the most part, Goldfrapp Radio kept delivering the stuff I wanted to hear, and the sonic quality was good (128Kbps MP3). You can give a song a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, save it as a favorite, purchase the song through iTunes, skip to the next song or pause, and even share your stations (you can create up to 100). Best of all, the service is free with advertisements or ad-free for $36 a year. At the very least, Pandora is a fun way to discover new music.