Opening Pandora’s box (again)

pandoraSeveral years ago, some very smart developers launched a new online music service called Pandora, which enables you to create your own personalized online music channel. What made this music tool truly unique is a proprietary algorithm that first asks you which artists you want to listen to, and then it searches its massive database to find other songs and artists with similar characteristics, which it plays in the flash-based Pandora music player. You can give each song Pandora plays a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down;” it uses these votes to fine tune its future song selections. I tried Pandora soon after its launch, but was disappointed in its music selections. It didn’t seem to offer much synthpop and related music.

Fast-forward to 2009. I recently read an article that focused on music applications for the iPhone, and it mentioned a Pandora player for this platform. So I decided to give it another try. I created two Pandora radio stations, one using the music of De/vision as a starting point, and the other one, Neuroactive. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered that Pandora now contains a surprising variety of synthpop music! The Neuroactive station played several early songs by this Finnish group that I had never heard of before. This channel also played several other intriguing music choices. The De/vision channel played songs by Iris and, not surprisingly, several tracks from Depeche Mode.

While I haven’t been able to devote a lot of time to spend listening to my new Pandora music channels, I am very impressed with what I’ve heard so far. One of the great joys of my life is discovering new electronic songs and artists, as well as obscure tracks and remixes from some of my favorite artists. It looks like Pandora will be a very cool tool for continuing to expand my musical frontiers. Two thumbs way up!

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