Pandora Gives Music Fans Hope

    December 30, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

With all the bad news for music lovers being generated by Sony rootkits, RIAA file-sharing lawsuits, payola practices, and music industry pressure on iTunes pricing, stands out like a Little Walter harp solo in the dark.

"Through your curiosity, you managed to release old age, sickness, plague, misery, selfishness, greed, and ugliness into the world. I am the Hope that will give the strength to mankind to battle these, but that is the best that can be done."
-- Pandora opens the Box one last time

First, a major hat tip to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch for taking a shot at listing the Web 2.0 apps he can’t live without.

One of those was Pandora, a music discovery service created by the Music Genome Project. The project’s participants have attempted to classify music by its characteristics, rather than by genre or label.

Users create a station by telling Pandora a song or artist they like. I tried to cross it up by entering Junior Wells, but Pandora tossed his “Prison Bars All Around Me” right back at me, along with tracks from Otis Rush and Little Milton.

So I changed tracks, created a new station (Pandora lets users create up to 100 stations) and gave it “Tori Amos” as a starting point. Pandora picked “Past The Mission” by Amos as the first track to play, and offered its “reasoning” as to that choice:

Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features mild rhythmic syncopation, a prominent rhythm piano part, mixed minor & major key tonality, melodic songwriting, and a dynamic female vocalist.

Pandora followed “Past The Mission” with a song by British folk artist June Tabor, and Sarah McLachlan’s understated “Do What You Have To Do,” and a track featuring ex-Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval. Users can rate tracks thumbs-up or down, and Pandora will adjust what it picks next.

Now the caveats: Pandora is for US-users only, over the age of 13. Pandora streams those tracks, which means serendipity rather than choice is going to govern the next song to play, though the current song can be skipped or paused..

I’ve obviously missed out on this site, but I’m glad to have found it. Bye-bye, Clear Channel and Cumulus; don’t call me, I’ll call you.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.