I’ve downloaded a lot of music over the years but even I get sick of hearing the same songs over and over again on my iPod. I generally can’t stand morning radio since it’s mostly talk (other than the Eric and Kathy show on 101.9fm from back home in Chicago – but obviously, I can’t listen to that show away from my computer and it’s not on all day). So how do you get to listen to songs that you actually like, with limited talk and commercials, and that you can listen to while you on the go? Enter Pandora.
Pandora is a different kind of internet radio. First off, it’s free to sign up. Although you can upgrade for a paid version to get rid of commercials (but I find they are few and relatively short so I don’t find them annoying) and a few other perks. Unlike other internet radio sites, you can create your own personal stations. You simply start out with choosing an artist or a song that you like. Pandora then plays that artists and also recommends songs from other artists that are similar. How does it know what to recommend? Well, in a recent article I read in WSJ Magazine, Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora, said, “We try to break down every dimension of a song to its most basic building blocks – like melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, vocal performance.” Basically they map the DNA of the song and thus can predict what you might like based on the common elements. Plus, with each song, you can rate it as a thumbs up or thumbs down so that Pandora can continue to learn which songs to play on your station. Sound cool? The free version also has a limit though in the case you may not dislike a song but may want to skip it – they only over 6 skips in an hour.
But what about when you’re on the go? Well, if you have either an iPhone or Android phone at least, you can download their app for free. As long as you have internet service, you can listen to it just as you were sitting at your computer at home or work (obviously, you are going to need an unlimited data plan since you will be streaming a lot of information). I’ve found that it doesn’t really drain the battery on my Droid that much either if you keep your screen inactive.
So what stations do I have currently going? I have one for the Muse (related bands: the Strokes, Coldplay, the White Stripes, Oasis, Keane, etc), one for Jimmy Eat World related bands: Smashing Pumpkins, Dashboard Confessional, Incubus, the Killers, etc) and one which I used Madonna’s Like a Prayer as the start (plays a lot of 80’s music).