Pandora Radio: A Box You Should Open

I admit I have some serious miles on my music odometer, but I’ve never stopped looking for that after-market part that would help keep my rock and roll engine running. With the music industry desperately looking for a new business model, and commercial radio often bottom feeding in frat boy boorishness, it’s hard for the mature music consumer to expand their harmonic horizons. The end result is a lot of people just stop listening to music all together, or just listen to a narrow catalog of tunes by a favorite artist. There is a way out of this limbo that’s fascinating, fun, and free — and it’s called Pandora Radio.

Pandora’s been around for several years, and a lot of people who are seriously into music know about it — but this blog isn’t for them, it’s for all you music exiles who need to tune back in. Created by the Music Genome Project back in 2000, Pandora Radio is an internet music station that let’s you plug in the bands or songs you like, and then suggests other artists that share similar musical qualities. You basically create a radio station based on a band or a song, and then either give thumbs up or thumbs down on the results. The program is very good, so it’s rare that you get a real clunker, but it can happen. Pandora will play you an entire song, with background information, and offer you the opportunity to buy the song from iTunes or Amazon. You can’t repeat a song, like traditional radio once it goes by it’s gone, but the background information stays.
OK, here are some quick tips. It’s generally better to create a radio station based on a song you like rather than a band or artist. If you put in, say Bruce Springsteen, you’ll get songs by Tom Petty, Creedence, Bob Seeger, ect — no big surprises. But plug in a particular song and a little magic starts to happen.

Here’s my example, I created a station based on the song “Novocaine For the Soul” by the Eels and here’s the string of songs that followed.

“All Of Us Are In Danger” by Classic Case — they’re a solid band out of North Carolina with some nice indie rock sensibilities.

“Sour Grapes” by Leatherface — they’re a British band I had never heard before, but I really liked the song. In fact I liked it enough to want to hear more of their stuff, which, of course, is the whole point of Pandora.

“Ici Paris” by Noir Desir — now this is why I really love Pandora. Noir Desir is a French alternative rock band that formed back in the 80’s. The song is pretty terrific, and I was able to pick out some of the lyrics with my high school French, but it’s the fact that I got to hear a piece of music I never would have got to hear without Pandora that makes the web sight so much fun. Now I can’t stop singing “Ici Paris.”

I won’t go through all the songs, but it’s cool how Pandora validates your personal favorites — it also kicked out songs by The Wallflowers, Bright Eyes, Coldplay, and Alien Ant Farm, all bands I like quite a bit all ready.

Pandora Radio is a great way to reawaken your musical world — if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot, and let me know what you think.


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