Sometime in the last few years, a really awful wave of music infected commercial radio. I call it “guys singing like they’re passing a kidney stone,” and I just can’t listen to it. They don’t sing so much as force constipated vocal sounds out of their orifices, and it’s unbearable. Despite this clear sign that we’re headed straight to musical hell, bands like Nickelback, Daughtry, Creed and 3 Doors Down were all over the radio.
Luckily my friend told me about Pandora. I love Pandora. Pandora is a free internet radio station that doesn’t play audio commercials — ever. Instead, it supports itself with banner ads. The music streams, uninterrupted.
Unlike FM radio stations, which group their content around various marketable themes (rock, contemporary, country, jazz, etc.), Pandora allows you to create stations by seeding it with songs you like. Using something it calls the Musical Genome Project, it then uses your selections to find songs that are musically similar in melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics and other attributes.
But you aren’t passive in this process. Once Pandora starts playing a song, you can give it thumbs up or thumbs down, skip it, or choose not to hear it for a month. You can create up to 100 stations. I created a jazz station, a pop station, an acoustic guitar singer-songwriter station, an offbeat station (Tom Waits, Devo, They Might Be Giants, etc.), soul, and so on.
My friend Hank told me about Pandora, and I had the “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread!” reaction. So I started evangelizing for it, and other people had the same reaction. Here’s one from a friend of mine:
Thanks for the heads-up about pandora.com. It’s great! I started one station and let it play for about an hour while I input grades. It was so nice … I have to get busy playing some jazz on Pandora, man. Screw the planning and the dishes!
With that kind of fanatical devotion, I expected them to be world-beaters. But last week I found out that they’re struggling. According to the Wired Music Blog, Pandora had to cut 14 percent of its staff. I know times are tough (the company I work for has been struggling like a lot of others), but I’m hoping Pandora doesn’t close up shop.
So. My humble request of the day is to try Pandora. If you like it, recommend it. And yeah, I know I sound like a marketing shill. But hey, this is Web 2.0. Support what you believe in, eh?