When growing up, we old-timers bought LP records because we liked a particular artist and we could get twelve songs by that same artist on one record, which was a great improvement from the 45 RPMs. The 45 had one song on each side. In 1979, both Sony and Philips started work on the CD; and Philips introduced the first commercial CD featuring the group, ABBA. With the CD, record needles gave way to the laser, and introduced superior quality music.
If we didn’t want to possess many CD’s, but wanted to hear diverse artists, we turned on the radio, and tuned into a FM station that had a playlist of songs in a particular genre, such as Country, Rock, New Age, Heavy Metal, Jazz, etc. We still had to listen to songs that the DJ selected, rather than what we desired to hear.
In 2005, Pandora changed the way that we listen to music. We no longer had to tune into a radio station, which played the variety of music, which we enjoyed. We now could pick the music that we love by personalizing our own radio station, using a “seed” song. The listener can pick a favorite artist, song or genre; and Pandora radio will play music that matches the listener’s selection.
The medical field took us humans apart and analyzed our DNA, thereby placing us in a family, which could be related by matching the elements of our DNA. Just like the medical field took apart our DNA, the Music Gnome Project took apart the basics of music, such as melody, harmony, rhythm, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics and vocal harmony. Each part of our DNA makes us who we are, and can compare our DNA association to others in our family. The Gnome Project makes the same association between families of similar songs.
The Project captures the unique identity of a song, while Pandora gives us the exact music that we love anytime and anywhere, through devices, such as desktop and laptop computers, smart phones and connected Blu-ray players. Since the Project started, over 800,000 songs have been analyzed.
I started my own Pandora radio station by selecting Taylor Swift as my “seed” artist. Now, when I sign on to Pandora Internet Radio, it plays a song from Taylor Swift and then moves on to Carrie Underwood, Lady Antibellum, Christina Perry, and the songs that I am partial to keep playing. I started a second station, using Sarah Brightman as the “seed.” This station plays Celine Deon, Josh Groban, Enya, Secret Garden and other favorites.
If you are a subscriber to Pandora Internet Radio, your radio station is listed on the left side of the page after you sign in. As each song is played, you will see an image from the album, the song’s title and the artist. Directly under this information are the song’s lyrics, which I enjoy, as at my age, I fail to notice some of the words in a song. The listener has the ability to move the track, which is playing, to another of your radio stations; start a new station using that track; and bookmark the track or the artist.
Under the image of the song, which is playing, there are “thumbs.” If you give a song a thumbs up, Pandora will play more tracks similar to which you are listening. If you give the track a thumbs down, Pandora will jump to the next song. The thumbs help Pandora refine the stations.
Pandora is not commercial free, but the commercials are short, unlike the radio stations, which have commercials that seem to go on forever. If you are interested in the product or service being advertised, you can click on the commercial and get additional information.
Many of us, who spend a lot of windshield time in their car or truck, have Sirius satellite radio. Pandora is now competing for that market. Ford’s applink system allows drivers to control a variety of smart phone applications including Pandora’s internet radio. The Ford Fiesta and Mustang will be the first models to have the service. The applications will stay on the phone, not on a remote server, like Toyota’s Entune system.
The Toyota Prius V will debut Toyota’s own technology, which will be held on a remote server in Seattle. Toyota will use Bluetooth so that the car will rely on the driver’s smart phone for internet access. This will enable the car’s internet connection to improve with new phones.
It is important to know that Pandora apps are free, but these services use up minutes on your wireless data plan. Pandora works well with 2G, 3G and 4G phones with good streaming quality.
BMW will have a factory option, BMW Apps, which will support Pandora. Mercedes-Benz has a plug and play entertainment solution, enabling you to take your music on the road. Even the Mini has a connected interface that can be installed. It won’t be long before all manufacturers will be offering Apps to allow streaming audio to flow along with you on the highway.
Alpine has a receiver that allows you to control the iPhone Pandora App, and allow you to bookmark or rate songs from the faceplate. You can access station lists, bookmarks, and control Pandora commands on all JVC “Works with Pandora” receivers. Pioneer has nine compatible receivers with full in-dash Pandora controls.
If you own an Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Palm Prá¸—, or Windows Mobile, you can take your music with you and listen whenever the mood hits you. You can enjoy all of the stations that you created on the Web, and even create new ones on the fly. Pandora on your phone is totally integrated with Pandora on your PC, and everything that you create on the phone appears on the Web the next time that you go on.
For $36.00 a year, you can upgrade to Pandora One, which enhances your listening pleasure. The most noticeable improvement is 192K bits per second of streaming audio. 192K bits is the highest quality sound on the Internet. There are no ads of any kind, audio or video, just you and your music. You can even customize your look by surrounding the Pandora player with one of eight customized “skins.” You can minimize Pandora One into the smallest possible browser window, allowing Pandora to exist next to other web sites and applications.
With the ad supported version, you can only skip songs a total of twelve times a day. Using Pandora One, you are allowed six skips an hour. You can listen up to five hours without interacting with Pandora. The music just plays continuously. When you do interact, the timer is set for another five hours.
Sometimes music just doesn’t do it. You need a little laughter to brighten your day. Pandora introduced the Comedy Gnome Project last month. The Project analyzed comedy just like it did with music. Pandora has 10,000 comedy clips from over 700 comedians. Each track is about three to six minutes. You can create a comedy station featuring such genres as political comedy, working class comedy, PG comedy or comedy from eras, such as the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and current.
There is no doubt that Tim Westergren’s dream has not only changed the way that we listen to music, but will continue to make our music a listening pleasure.