"Better *music* programming than my subscription satellite radio â€“ and itâ€™s free!"on by Shamus in Seattle
Pros The "Music Genome Project" allows a listener to genetically engineer his or her own perfect commercial-free radio station.
Cons The tools for producing a truly customized, tweaked, and refined personalized station are less intuitive and could be better explained to new users.
Summary I am a Sirius Satellite Radio subscriber. I love it for the road and the non-music stations, but when I am at home, and I want to listen to music â€“ I go to my personalized Pandora station.
Iâ€™m a fan of older jazz, blues, swing, ballads, and standards. The Pandora projects music library constantly impresses me. I also personally believe that the Music Genome Project system does a better job of classifying and identifying the various â€œgenesâ€� of Jazz than it does of other musical forms. I know my Jazz stationâ€™s recommendations tend to be more spot-on than those of my Rock station.
The biggest trouble with Pandora is that they do not do a very good job of explaining how to use their â€œmusic genome projectâ€� to truly tweak and customize a personal station. The C/Net editorâ€™s review is a perfect example:
[QUOTE]"This is an imperfect system, since it's hard--if not impossible--to build a perfect set of "sounds like" algorithms. For instance, creating a station for Gillian Welch will render a plethora of the expected folk/country-tinged singer-songwriter ballads, but annoyingly, almost all of them will be by women. Presumably, a listener who likes Gillian Welch would also like, say, Will Oldham, Bob Dylan, Vic Chestnut, and so on--you get the point.â€�[END QUOTE]
The fact is itâ€™s actually pretty easy to build a perfect set of â€œsounds likeâ€� algorithms, unfortunately Pandora did a crappy job of explaining how to do it to new listeners. Most listeners, like the reviewer, will just follow the â€œquickstartâ€� method of entering a single song or artist. This will produce an alright blend of music, but as the C/Net reviewer noted it is not very accurate and can produce unfortunate side-effects such as the all-female singers problem. The trouble is the service only allows you to open a new station using that simpler single song/artist interface. You then need to, less intuitively, right click that single song/artist station, and select â€œedit stationâ€�, to get to the REAL customizing interface for your station.
Once you have the edit station screen open you can do a much better job of defining your personalized radio station. From here you can add MULTIPLE song and artist seeds to your stationâ€™s algorithm. This would have allowed the C/Net reviewer to create a station based on a seed of both Bob Dylan and Gillian Welch, thus solving his problem.
Pros Pretty Good Selection of Artists & Genres, Innovative System of Categorization, Free, Buffers Locally, My Favorites Blog, Multiple Stations Creation
Cons Flawed selection Process, Browser Based, No EQ, Doesn't List Album
Summary I have tried several Internet radio stations and services and this is definitely one of the better engineered packages. This service has clearly been put together by music lovers for music lovers. They are not out for profit; they are primarily interested in sharing as broad as possible a range of music for any given user. Further the selection is fairly deep and impressively broad. Of the several hundred artists and songs entered, only a handful were not in Pandora's database.
The ad supporting it is non-intrusive and if you use Mozilla you can adblock it out anyway. The interface is clearly laid out and easy to navigate if a little slow sometimes. For users with a high resolution display it may appear smaller than some might like. Because it runs off a browser it uses resource cycles greater than a dedicated stand alone program might (although, again, Mozilla is pretty streamlined and can have a very modest footprint).
Pandora's great strength is that it really is intended to give you the most complete and personalized listening experience: it searches for songs and artists like the ones you like and gets rid of those you don't. However their criteria for eliminating an artist is somewhat limiting: when you have checked two songs by an artist that you don't like it removes the artist from your radio station. For prolific artists or those with experimental or particularly diverse portfolios you will lose out. It is remarkably easy to add artists again however.
Pros Pandora has suggested and enormous amount of new tunes to me, and over a third of them have been real winners.
Cons Two-thirds of the suggestions suck, making me wonder about the folks profiling the attributes of the music database. Genome garbage in, genome garbage out. Plus the interface is brutally slow switching from regular station to QuickMix.
Summary You shouldn't be limited on skips during the first two months of use, as you attempt to educate the data base. You shouldn't be assessed a skip for putting a tune on hold for a month. When you thumb-up a tune/artist combo, Pandora should occasionally play that track, not always offering up 'similar' things that aren't really similar. All-in-all Pandora has potential. The interface is better than Slacker but I find myself liking Last.fm better.
Pros Great selection! Explores new music! Good sound. Works great on my old computer. Even pulled the old thinkpad with 98 on out of the closet to put on the stereo in the garage! PANDORA IN THE GARAGE!!
Cons Only a 40hr per month limit. I max that out about every month. but only 99c to keep listening for unlimited hours.
Summary Fantastic all around. Love it! You will not be disapointed.
Pros Great sound quality, FREE!!, easy to use, finds great music easily
Cons no client software, so you must keep your browser open to keep the music pumping
Summary I am simply amazed. I didn't think this sort of thing was legal or possible, but maybe it is, and if it is, this WILL be the next big thing on the net. This service is easy to use, provides the entire unabridged song, makes it easy to find great music. I highly reccomend this site, if nothing else just check the site out and try it for a half an hour. Dont just use one term, try several and see what you find.