Friday, September 9, 2011


I am often amazed at how many people do not yet share my addiction to Pandora Radio. For those that are already Pandora junkies, keep on reading. There are some cool things about Pandora that you probably didn’t know and I will mention a few alternatives to Pandora that you might like even better.

Pandora Radio was named after an extremely beautiful Greek goddess. She was formed from the earth by the king of the gods, Zeus, as the first woman and was presented as a gift to a lesser god named Prometheus. Pandora came with some baggage in the form of a beautifully adorned jar (often mistranslated as “box”). Prometheus and Pandora were forbidden by Zeus to open this jar. So Pandora did what any woman would do and opened it anyway not knowing the jar contained evil spirits. The evil spirits were unleashed upon the world and eventually resulted in Michele Bachmann. Fortunately she closed the jar before the last spirit escaped. That last evil spirit was named Hopelessness. The use of the name Pandora is playful and ironic because Pandora Radio opens a new world of music, rather than evils, for its users.

Pandora is the result of a project started in 1999 by a team of music nuts. Their goal was to "capture the essence of music at the fundamental level." The algorithm they use categorizes 400 different attributes of music then compares and categorizes them relationally. Each song is then analyzed by at least one musician in a process that takes 20 to 30 minutes per song.

The end result is a website-based radio station that always plays you favorite music. You can create your own “station” for either a song or a musician. Create a station for Jimmy Buffet and you’ll get some Buffet along with other similar artists. Type in the name of a song and you’ll get a station of songs that resemble that song. You can further refine the station by giving each song a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Each time you rate a song, Pandora adjusts the station more to your liking by playing more songs that resemble the thumbs up, and less songs that resemble the thumbs down. I find it to be a stupendously fun way to discover new music.

The basic Pandora service is free and gives you 40 hours of listening per month and plays an occasional commercial. Their premium service costs $36.00 per year and offers unlimited play, better sound quality and no commercials. I’ve got Pandora loaded on my home and office computers and on my smart phone so I can play it in my Jeep. Check it out at

Pandora does an uncanny job of playing just the music you like to hear but there are some challengers out there that are worth looking at. Among the top rated choices are, StumbleAudio, Songza, Musicovery, and Grooveshark. Each of these products have a unique method of finding and playing your kind of music. The choice will boil down to personal preference. Rock on.


Anonymous said...

Um, you could type in 'Jimmy Buffet' but you will likely only get diner music. He spells his name 'Buffett'. Love, your parrothead nephew, Cole

Anonymous said...

Oh, and don't forget spotfly