Wed Oct 10 08:12:16 EDT 2007

Anyone else on this list experimented with the Pandora Web site? It
allows you to set up and "program" your own Internet radio stations
(as many as 100 per user). It's currently free, though there is a
$36/year option that--I guess--blocks the ads, which I have so far
found unobtrusive. To use either the free or paid services for more
than a few minutes, you must register, which requires supplying
Pandora with some demographic data, but not enough data to make me
worry. Whether Pandora will survive the Internet music-royalty wars
is, I think, unproven. But while it lasts, I'm finding it to be a lot
of fun and a source of some very nice listening.

According to the site, the software behind Pandora was created by
something called The Music Genome Project, which has categorized
probably tens of thousands of album cuts using a system that involves
rating each cut according to an (unspecified) large number of musical
attributes, none of which I've found either named or described on the
site. To set up a "station," you start by telling the software what
kinds of music you like. You do this by listing an artist or artists
and/or song titles. The software then says you like music similar to
what you've listed. The selected music can include many titles and
artists that you did not list but which the software considers to have
qualities similar to those of the titles and artists you did list. In
my case, many of the selected artists and titles are ones I had never
heard of (much less, heard) before I started playing with Pandora.
Each time Pandora presents a selection (even one you specifically
requested), it gives you the opportunity to tell it whether you liked
the selection, disliked it, or wish that your "station" would not play
it again for 30 days.

Pandora seems to like to create groups of four or five tracks from a
particular genre and then transition to a similar number of tracks
from a different genre that falls within the realm that it has decided
you like. However, your real-time "votes" can guide its selections
into different areas within your specified musical universe--or even
outside. After three or four days of listening and tweaking, I find
most of the music it selects for me to be quite pleasing.

Anyone who wants to hear what I like apparently can find out by
logging into Pandora and bringing up my "station," which I've named
"Mel Torme and Much More." BTW, I've not heard anything by Torme
himself for at least two days.

I've learned through sad experience that this music mix can never make
it on an over-the-air commercial station. Even though WJIB plays some
of the same selections, it probably would never play a mix like this
because it just wouldn't attract the number of listeners that Bob
Bittner reaches with the mix he has worked out.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

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