There’s a new love in my life and it’s name is Pandora.

For a couple of years now my husband has been telling me to check out this music website, pandora.com. It’s a site where you can create your own internet radio station. To set it up you enter in your favorite artists or songs and it plays music that according to their research you might like based on what artists and songs you pick. I checked it out a couple of times and thought it was cool but never really used it. It was just another one of a million sites that I’d love to investigate further but seemed sort of vaguely intriguing.

My life has continued on normally without this website until about a week ago. That’s when everything changed.

It all started last week at work when I found myself with a ton of data entry to do in an environment where it’s very difficult to focus. Listening to music with headphones on to block out the world around me really helps but my ipod is in desperate need of some new material so I didn’t want to use that. That same day a coworker just happened to be raving about Pandora so I thought, “Hey, why not? I’ll give it a whirl.”

I was hooked in about two seconds. I started out by creating “Stevie Wonder Radio” and soon was adding Earth Wind & Fire, Sade, Kenny Loggins, Koop, RJD2, DJ Shadow, Michael McDonald, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, Prince, Morris Day & The Time, Ready For The World. You know…….the usual (what?? it’s my radio station remember……i can pick ANYTHING i want!)

I liked the some of the songs they played for me and some I didn’t like at all. Here’s where it gets good though. When a song plays that you don’t like you can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. Basically saying “play more like this” or “never EVER play this again on MY station!” I love that! Things were grooving right along until I threw Ben Folds into the mix a couple days later. Sure, I already had alot of songs that I was rejecting (I love some old Elton John, but that doesn’t mean i want to listen to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”)…….but for some reason I don’t understand, things got weird when I put Mr Fold’s name in. Pandora started sending me the Counting Crows and Southern Rock. That’s a big NO for me, I have to admit things were a little rocky between Pandora and I at that point.

Then my husband explained to me how the program works. It picks songs based on the style of the artists and songs you select, not just the artist or genre. Each song or artist is categorized with specific adjectives that music pros (sounds like a fun job) assign to them. It looks at your selections and matches them with others that have those same adjectives.

Pandora will even tell you why it played a certain song for you. Just click on the “Guide Us” button under each song and select “Why is this song playing?” For example Pandora choose ‘Controversy’ by Prince for me because (this is a direct quote) “Based on what you’ve told us so far we’re playing this track because it features electronica influences, heavy melodic ornamentation, repetitive melodic phrasing, extensive vamping and minor key tonality.” This song got a “thumbs up” from me. I don’t know what “extensive vamping” is but I know I like it!

If you don’t like the song played you can just tell it to never play that song again or you can just say you are tired of it, don’t play it again for a month. You are in charge and all of this power is yours………for free! That’s the beauty of Pandora!

I have to warn you though…..it’s addicting. It’s easy to get quite swept away dismissing songs, adding obscure artists you haven’t thought of in years, tweaking and adjusting the station until it’s just right. It’s the game for a music afficionado. One of the purposes of the site is to introduce people to new music. For instance, “If you like The Shins you’ll love this new band!” Sure, that’s definitely a cool feature but I just love saying yes or no to songs and seeing what’s going to pop up next. The only problem with that is, even pandora has it’s limits. I could literally sit there all day skipping to the next song just because I am so curious about what will play next but that’s not an option. After a certain amount of skips you get a friendly message letting you know that due to licensing regulations you may only skip a certain amount of songs per hour. My husband loves to just enter in one artist or song he loves, instead of a whole list, and then just let the station play based on that one song just to see where it will go. No matter which way you enter your criteria, it’s alot of fun.

I started using pandora last Wednesday. By Saturday we were in a really good place in our relationship. I let it just play for about an hour while I got ready to go out and every song was perfect. By that point I guess I had tweaked it enough I guess. The day before I had given it some of my hip hop favorites (stuff like Blackalicious and Talib Qweli) and it played for me the Beatnuts, Dilated Peoples and then followed up with some Paul McCartney and Hall & Oates. Now that is my kind of mix. I felt like shouting “Pandora! Finally you know me. You really know me!” This is just the start of what could be a beautiful relationship.

(meridith)

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