Way back in 2005 a website named Pandora launched on the web. One of the first of it's kind, Pandora is an online music steaming service, among many others that are now competing in the same space. Pandora is unlike these other services though, in fact it has quite a unique approach.
Pandora's history is a bit rocky, it used to be available in Australia, but due to licensing issues, it was completely blocked and turned into a U.S only service. A lot has changed since 2005 and Pandora is now branching out, trialing it's service once again in Australia and New Zealand. It only just became available again 2 weeks ago at the beginning of July.
So why is Pandora unique? Once you arrive at the Pandora website you are presented with a single field, asking you to type a musical artist, genre or composer. Selecting a match, Pandora will instantly start playing a track which it thinks is the best match.
If you entered an artist it will most likely play a song from that particular artist that you've heard before, but from then on, it will start playing music from different artists that share the same style. It will also tell you why it's chosen the next artist (shown on right).
This technology is called the Music Genome Project, which powers Pandora behind the scenes:
When was the last time you fell in love with a new artist or song?
At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play only music you'll love. To understand just how we do this, and why we think we do it really, really well, you need to know about the Music Genome Project®. Since we started back in 2000, we have been hard at work on the Music Genome Project. It's the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken.
Together our team of musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every track - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.
With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart's content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs, artists or genres into Pandora and let the Music Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings - new and old, well known and completely obscure - to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.
When you listen to each track, you can give each one a thumbs up or thumbs down, or just let it be. If you do rate it, the algorithim will adjust and give you something that it thinks you'll enjoy for the next track, and so on, fine tuning the results, remembering what you've chosen for the future.
Pandora does such an incredible job, I often just let the tracks play out. Pandora is also great for just leaving open and having a constant stream of great music playing. It's perfect while playing games for background music as well.
Lately i've been on a spree of listening to 70's, 80's and 90's music, i'm obsessed. A "first time i've really discovered it, what have I been missing out on" kind of obsession.
Whenever you want something different, just create a new station with an artist, composer or genre. You can even create stations off individual songs.
The downside to Pandora is you can't just go and find an individual track and start playing it, nor can you just play a complete album from beginning to end. It truly is a radio station of sorts, just with a bit more control. Depending on how you listen to music, this might not be for you.
In terms of other music services, i've also tried Rdio and Spotify which have also recently launched in Australia, they're good, but i'm still sticking with Grooveshark for my alternative, which i've covered before. It's perfect when I want to go and listen to an individual track, or listen to the album I don't have yet. Sharing tracks and creating playlists to share with friends is also a big plus.
I really can't recommend Pandora enough, you've got to try it at least twice!