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It's the New Sound of Free Online Music Radio
Pandora Builds You a Personal Music Station Based on the Music That Moves You




Pandora Is the New Sound of Free Online Music Radio

What makes Pandora unique? It’s the New Sound of Free Online Music Radio. Pandora Builds You a Personal Music Station Based on the Music That Moves You. Pandora can Read Your Mind And Play Your Music Favorites. Pandora, the new face of free online radio music. Pandora the free online music station with a twist.

Pandora is online radio that’s cool and personal and free. Pandora is more than an online music radio station. It is an adventure in music discovery. Powered by in depth song analysis, Pandora has captured the essence of each song with a signature ID.

Just tell Pandora one of your favorite songs or artists, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar to your fav. Suppose you like Supertramp on Breakfast in America. Pandora might add Journey with Separate Ways and Don Henley performing Dirty Laundry to your personal music station. Then you provide feedback on the individual song choices which Pandora takes into account for future music selections.

On commercial radio stations, you have to listen to the generic top-twenty played over and over. On Pandora, your preferences matter. The music playlist is customized for you.

The Vision of Tim Westergren

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, is a well-trained musician who plays the piano, the bassoon, the recorder, the drums and the clarinet. When he graduated from Stanford in 1988, he expected to make a living as a musician, playing piano in acoustic rock bands. He gave up life on the road with a small band to try composing scores for small films. This job taught him that people don’t have the language skills to describe the music they like. They have to refer to existing compositions and other artists.

Tim is an expert in music theory and structure. He is passionate about the concept of music selections customized for each person. His company Savage Beast Technologies was founded with two friends in San Francisco in 1999 to make his vision a reality. Working with a group of trained musicians, he set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. This project is called the Music Genome

How the Music Genome Finds Music Favorites

Tim and his posse of musicians identified 400 qualities or genomes for each category of music, pop, classical, jazz and hip-hop. Every song is analyzed by humans and rated on a 10-point scale for each of the 400 qualities in its category. Those ratings are the song’s DNA, its Music Genome. The qualities that characterize a song are everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and, of course, singing styles and vocal harmony. The Genome of a song also includes signatures like acid rock style, extensive vamping, minor key tonality, an electric guitar solo and a dynamic male vocalist. Taken together, the genes of a song tell you what the song sounds like.

Tim envisioned an Internet site that uses the Music Genome of songs to recommend music based upon what the listener already likes. If the listener gives a song a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, that info helps choose more songs for the listener. Individual “stations,” or playlists, are designed from your musical preferences, almost like reading your mind.

The Beginning of Free Online Music That's Truly Personal

Creating the Music Genome is time-consuming and inherently expensive. Tim doesn’t believe that computer software can analyze music as well as trained musicians. Just before the big dot com crash, Tim raised $1.50 million from venture capital to start work. Along the way, he tried many business strategies, hoping to find a need in the marketplace for personal, individualized music. It was an uphill struggle, with only dribbles of capital to keep the project afloat.

Finally, in 2005, Pandora was launched in its present form, a free online music selection and broadcast service, supported by advertising. Pandora caught on quickly and drew lots of music fans. It has become a site with 8 million enthusiastic listeners, a stable of famous advertisers and a database of 500,000 songs.

Among Online Music Stations, Pandora Is Unique

There are lots of music stations on the Internet. But on the Internet, just like AM/FM radio, you have no say in the playlist. What makes Pandora unique is its proprietary method to analyze music, that Tim calls the Music Genome. Pandora lets you build personal online radio stations, based on the music that moves you.

The name Pandora means “all gifted” in Greek. According to mythology, Pandora was curious about her gifts from the gods, and dared to defy them. On this Internet music site, curiosity is a virtue, and is rewarded with a never-ending adventure in music.

You define each music station by choosing a favorite artist or song. Pandora uses your choice as a seed, and creates a station for you by selecting other songs with similar characteristics. If your seed is Casey Jones by the Grateful Dead, Pandora will put together a radio channel with selections from the Youngbloods, the Byrds and the Beatles, along with R.E.M., the Jam and Tom Petty.

Artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Keane, the Beatles, Coldplay, The Police, Queen, Breaking Benjamin, Bill Evans, John Lewis, Dave Brubeck, Supertramp, Radiohead, Deep Purple, J.J. Johnson, Pilate, Chico Buarque, Travis, The Who, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderly all have a place in the repertoire at Pandora.

Pandora Includes New Young Artists in Its Music Catalog

Everywhere the music industry is in a state of flux. Record labels will sign only blockbuster music brands. Promising artists with a small but devoted following can’t get a record label contract now for love or money. This means that young breakout talent has no way to reach a larger audience with his or her music. Pandora makes room for these up-and-comers. If you are a new musical artist, you can submit your work to the Music Genome Project for possible inclusion at Pandora.

And Did I Mention, Pandora Is Free?

Pandora is entirely free on the web. But their music license requires that listeners be U.S. residents. They’ll ask you for a valid email address to use as your screen name and they’ll ask your age and gender. You must be at least 13 years old to sign up. Parents of teenagers can easily set a filter to exclude explicit content.

When you are signed in, you get to create your own stations and bookmark songs and artists. You can share your personal music stations and your Profile with friends, or keep them private.

The free version of Pandora is entirely supported by advertisements. A paid subscription of $36 a year gets you Pandora on the Web without any advertising, plus Pandora on your mobile phone and Pandora on other in-home devices, like Squeezebox and Transporter.

Online Live Music Stations Face A Licensing Problem

Pandora must pay a license fee every time it plays a song. Pandora pays licensing fees to SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for all the music. These payments are then distributed to the performing artists, songwriters, publishers and record labels. Because there are no international licensing organizations, Pandora cannot broadcast its streaming audio to most countries outside the U.S. Commercial use and re-broadcasting of Pandora music over public loudspeakers is also forbidden by the license.

The Music Industry Puts Limits on Internet Music Radio

The record companies are worried that free Internet radio will destroy the market for purchased music. Consequently the music industry places restrictions on what Pandora and all other Internet radio broadcasters can offer you. Their music license requires that you can only skip past a few songs on the playlist each hour. You cannot rewind or replay a song you just heard. You cannot have more than one station seeded by a particular artist. And there’s a time-out function that requires you to interact periodically with the Pandora Tuner. But the most critical limitation on all Internet radio is that you cannot request a particular artist or song. That is to say, you do not have the right to play-on-demand.

Internet Radio Pays Higher Music Fees
Than Satellite Radio and AM/FM Radio

The major problem now for Pandora and all online music radio is the way music is licensed for play. License fees are set by the Copyright Royalty Board, part of the Library of Congress. Internet radio stations are charged a royalty fee based upon the number of listeners and broadcast hours. The fee was increased in July 2007, so that they pay about three cents an hour for each listener. But what strikes hardest is the new charge of $500 for each individual station. Pandora, with millions of individual stations, could be wiped out. The fees in effect for Internet radio are significantly higher than the fees charged satellite radio broadcasters and AM/FM radio stations. Pandora and other Internet radio stations continue to lobby for equitable treatment.

How to Use Pandora's Personal Music Stations

When I logged in today, Rvincoletti’s Radio, a shared station, was playing. You can enjoy all the stations that members have created at Pandora and create up to 100 new ones with your own music preferences. You can also rate songs using thumbs up and thumbs down, and bookmark favorite artists and songs. You can use a shared station as a template for your own station.

Pandora is a true Web 2.0 site, in that it creates a community of music lovers, who can share their profiles, bookmarked songs, artists and station names. Guests can visit your station pages and leave you comments. You can reply to their comments on your profile page. You can move songs from one station to another of your stations, and thereby create a playlist of favs. Then you can email the URL of your profile page to Santa Claus, so he’ll know what music you’d like for Christmas.

Pandora has code widgets for you to include your stations on your website, blog or MySpace. Add a playlist of your favorite songs on your other pages, with links right to a sample of the song. But you can’t play the entire song from a widget because of those licensing bugaboos.

Then, for sharing with friends, Pandora will create for you an RSS feed of your personal stations or bookmarked songs. Your friends can subscribe to your RSS feed through an RSS reader like http://my.yahoo.com. They’ll be notified every time you bookmark a great new song.

There Are Many Ways to Listen to Pandora

The easierst and quickest way to hear Pandora is directly through your browser, using a broadband Internet connection and the Flash Player software your computer already has. There is nothing to download. However, dial-up isn’t supported. Just visit http://www.pandora.com.

You may want to listen to Pandora on your stereo. The simplest way is to unplug the audio from your computer speakers and plug it into your stereo. You may need an inexpensive 1/8” male-to-dual RCA adapter cable from your electronics store. Also, you can listen to Pandora on Apple Airport. You can also use an FM transmitter to broadcast Pandora from your computer to your stereo.

Squeezebox is a wireless device that brings music into every room of your home. You don’t have to turn on your PC or Mac to hear Internet radio. Squeezebox delivers Pandora’s music as well as thousands of other Internet radio stations. It connects to a high fidelity system or speakers. Cost is about $299.

The Transporter from Slim Devices, a Logitech company, is a high end Internet music system for streaming digital music. It retails for $1999.

You can also get Pandora on most Sprint mobile phones. It’s free for the 30-day trial period. Afterward it requires a monthly subscription of $2.99, in addition to the Sprint Power Vision data plan.

From Tim Westergren and his group of musicians comes the most comprehensive analysis of music ever made. Pandora will enrich your listening pleasure and widen your musical horizons. Pandora is the champagne of all music stations.

I hope life brings you much success. I wish you a very happy day.
-----     Surfer Sam  


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