How many genes make up a song’s DNA?

by oz on November 28, 2006

‚ ‚ ‚  Tim Westergren‚ Stanford Logo

That’s a question that can only be asked in a discussion about music‚ at Stanford University.‚  Well,‚ Stanford or anywhere else Pandora’s founder, Tim Westergren,‚ travels to hold one of his Town Hall Meetings.‚  Last night I visited Stanford to listen to his story, his product‚ and his thoughts on the music industry.

You really have to respect the dedication of the Pandora crew.‚  They travel all over the country, inviting Pandora users to come out and meet face-to-face to hear the story of Pandora in all its glory…and gore.‚  If you haven’t used Pandora and don’t know the history, I’ll try to give you the shortened version:

Pandora started as the “Music Genome Project” aimed at helping consumers discover new music.‚  Most employees and management are actually musicians.‚  They break down every song in its catalog into 400 isolated parts, manually.‚  That’s right.‚  They have 45 musicians that sit around and listen to every song and score it on 400 unique attributes.‚  When you listen to the Pandora radio player, you can create a station based on a favorite artist or band and Pandora will serve up tracks with similar “chromosomes.”‚  From there, it’s up to you to give it a thumbs up or thumbs down to help the player learn your tastes.‚  The result: a great listening experience and the‚ passive discovery of music that,‚ in all probability, you’ll like.

He also talked about the dot com boom and its subsequent crash, when Pandora burned through $2 million in funding from angel investors.‚  In 2004 they raised another $10 million (after pitching Pandora over 300 times to different venture caps), hired a CEO and‚ paid back the salaries of several employees that had stayed on board‚ as volunteers to the‚ Pandora‚ cause during the lean times.‚ ‚ Fortunately for its current listeners, they have kept the 100 person company alive and kicking (sorry for the Simple Minds reference).

I’m tired.‚  I’ll continue this in my next post with more coverage on topics discussed in the meeting, including‚ Pandora’s business model‚ and my thoughts on the product.

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