Radio, suckas never play me (or what I want)!

And you know what? I don’t need them to. It’s a rarity that I turn on the radio in my car and NEVER at home. Wanna know why? Because the radio PLAYS BULLSHIT! Yea, I said it. If it’s crunked up or ganstafied, it’s on the radio. If it’s sex for profit, it’s on the radio. If it’s true Hip Hop or soul music, it get’s no play (except for a couple of hours on a saturday or sunday night). Where are the Jazz stations(same deal there except for sunday afternoons)? And the number of stations that carry “oldies” and /or “classic R&B (real soul music)” are dwindling. So what is a person to do? Well, you can turn off the radio (I have) and/or pop in a CD, Cassette (yes, they are still around), or fill an MP3 player with whatever you want, but that is a topic for another time.

Right now, I want to introduce you to something new for your listening pleasure. This, unfortunately, will not do you any good in the car. Well, not unless your car has internet capabilities. That being the case, you are good and I want to see for my self. Anyway, what I am speaking of is the music discovery service called Pandora. Not to be confused with the box that let’s all Hell loose when opened, by the way.

Pandora was started by the people who came up with the Music Genome Project. What is this, you ask? Well, have you heard of the Human Genome Project, the people mapping human DNA? Well, it’s the same thing, but in relation to music. Basically, they take songs apart and group them into their key elements for mapping. From what I understand, a song can be broken into many parts, such as style of music, to instrumentation, to region of, genre (in a sense), etc. So, what does this have to do with Pandora? Well, it uses these elements to give you the music you are looking to hear, and quite possibly want to hear. So let’s get into it.

First, if you haven’t by now, go here. Near the bottom of the page, you should see the player loading up. The player is made with Macromedia Flash. It’s being used by 90% of all websites nowadays. That really won’t mean anything to you unless you don’t see the player at all. If you don’t, go here, download Flash, and reload Pandora. Good? Great. Now, the first time you go to the page, the player will ask you for an artist or song name. Go ahead and try it. Once you hit okay, it will make up a station based on the artist you entered. Some things to consider, though. You may or may not get the artist or song you want right away. Or at all. The reason being, is that they may not have the song or artist you asked for. That is because they don’t have every song and artist in the world. They have about 15,000 or so songs from what I hear. Even if they do have what you want, it is possible that it won’t show up first or at all. It will ask you for a sort of a confirmation as to what you asked for. You can either say yes, that’s it or no it’s not. But let’s say for the sake of argument that it does. Click ‘ok’ at the next message.

Afer a second or two, it will play the song or the artist you asked for. If you like what it gave you, you can click on the ‘guide us’ button underneath the album art (which is also a clickable menu). It will give you 4 options:

  1. ‘thumbs up’ – I really like this song – play more of this!
  2. ‘thumbs down’ – I don’t like this song – it’s not what this station should play.
  3. ‘?’ – Why is this song playing?
  4. ‘+’ – I want to add more kinds of music to this station

It’s actually all pretty explanatory once you play around with it. At the top of the player are the controls. You got volume, play, pause, and skip to the next track (only around 5 or so at a time). Now you say, no rewind? No skip back a track? Nope! Because of whatever license that they are running by won’t allow that to happen (violation of the DMCA, you know). So anyway, you are well on your way. You can let the music ride and see what comes up. The song selection will try to follow based on the stylings of the song/artist playing. If you don’t like a song, hit ‘guide us’ or click on the album art and give it the thumbs up or down. As a matter of fact, click it anyway and check out the other options. One such is that you can buy the song or album from Amazon or iTunes (if you go for that sort of thing).

Let’s talk about one or two other things. Look to the left of the player, you will see options to create a new station or the name of the one you just created. If you choose to you can make a new station and start the ball rolling again. If you do, the one you created will stop after the song or artist is chosen. If you aren’t going to do that, you might want to edit your station a bit. If you click on the down arrow next to you station, this will bring up another menu:

  1. Add more music to this station
  2. Email this station to a friend
  3. Edit this station
  4. Rename this station
  5. Delete this station
  6. Close menu

So have at it at your leisure. By the way, you have up to 20 minutes or so in introductory time before you are asked to sign up (which can be free unless you choose otherwise). A couple of things should be noted. You can have up to 100 stations at any thime. I don’t know what you would do with 100 stations, but you can. If you sign up for the free version, there’s not much different from the paid service except for the fact that you will eventually hear ads every so often (haven’t heard any yet).

Let’s give an example. I wanted a (Neo) soul station to listen too. I started off with one of my favorite artists: Amel Larrieux (who’d you think?). The first song it gave me was “Even if” from her 1st solo album, Infinite Possibilities (which is a great title track). The second song was “Peaches and Cream” from Monifah’s 3rd album, “Home“. After that was “Blue” by Barry Manilow. Why? ‘Cause he writes the songs that makes the whole world sing! Nah, but I did hit ‘guide us’ and clicked on why this song was played. It gave me an answered that makes sense. Which brings up something. The service isn’t perfect, meaning you will have to tweak it a bit because of stuff like this (or not), but it’s pretty damn good! Then the whole thing stole the show for me. It played Anita Baker“Giving you the best that I’ve got”. If anyone knows me, Anita Baker is my absolute favorite female singer. I’ve been hooked on Pandora ever since. That is why I am telling you this now. It’s a great service. Plus, I’ve found music that I probably would not have found on my own. And I can get to it from anywhere with an internet connection. That includes a wi-fi connection, for those with a PDA,Treo, or whatever. Except for the Sony PSP which has internet capabilities but no flash support, yet. And I’ve been told that Yahoo does something similiar to this. Well, that might be true, but the sound quality is nowhere near this and I doubt it’s presented like this. Incidently, the last song I listened to in this set was ‘Get Up’ by Amel Larrieux, her first single from Infinite Possibilities.

Look enough talk, go try it out already. If there is a song or artist that they don’t have, tell ’em. I will say that they don’t have classical music yet because they don’t know how to handle it yet. I’ve run across some stuff like an old Lisa Fischer song I used to like, to Coldplay, to Portishead, Karyn White, and am now delving into some reggae (yea, L, I’m looking up Assassin). There are other stuff that is supposed to be coming in the future. For now, they do have the ability to subscribe to a friend’s stations as RSS feeds and emailing and sharing said stations and feeds. Oh, and you can share your stations on your blog or website (you should see mine shortly after this). Go here to find out how to do this. Alright, I’m sure i’m forgetting something, but who cares. Go try this, now!

If you want more info outside of what I’ve told you then listen to this interview with the founder of Pandora:

Inside the Net 6: Tim Westergren of Pandora Media


Pandora, find music you’ll love (You really will)

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