Pandora Reviewed: Rod Stewart = Hip Dysplasia.

by oz on November 30, 2006

Continued from my last post about the Pandora Town Hall Meeting at Stanford University
Pandora Logo

So Pandora’s purpose in life is to answer the question, “Can you help me find more music I will like?” After using Pandora off and on for over a year, I’ve found that the answer is “Yes…sort of.”

Let’s first consider a few things. How do you find new music? Here’s what I do.

  • I get recommendations from friends.
  • I occasionally read magazines, visit websites, and read other blogs.
  • I preview songs in iTunes, check out similar albums and preview iMixes by other listeners.
  • I use my Rhapsody account to listen to music on demand and will plow through recommendations they make.

All of these activities require that I set aside time in an evening or on a weekend. I search and click and search and preview and open and close windows, then search again, then read a review, then preview, preview, preview, download. Music discovery is a proactive effort and my attention span is short.

Now I have Pandora trying to discover music for me with their radio player. When do you listen to the radio? I listen in the car during my work commute. Pandora doesn’t work in my car, but it would be great if it did. Occasionally I listen to Pandora at work, but I’m usually too busy to pay much attention to the song or to see what band is playing. I also listen to Pandora while I write blog entries (like right now). I have a mix station set up (you can see it on the sidebar of HearYa) that includes the Drive By Truckers, Magnolia Electric Co., Band of Horses, the Black Keys, Wilco and Wolf Parade.

In the last hour, Pandora has recommended Rod Stewart anda guy named T Graham Brown singing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” I don’t know who T is, but I know Simon and Garfunkle and I hate them. Actually I hate Art Garfunkle, but it’s enough hatred to reflect on both he and Simon. Are you serious Pandora? I want a copy of the chromosomes that pulled Rod Stewart into my station’s genetic code. I’m just thankful I was listening by myself and no one overheard.

Don’t get me wrong. I want Pandora to succeed. I like the brand, the product, the people, the player, the price (free) and the Genome Project. I just don’t trust the DNA because of some errant recommendations. I also don’t have the time to listen passively to a radio station to find something I like. Maybe I just enjoy the thrill of the hunt in finding a new band. If Pandora can give me access to search and preview tracks in the Genome Project, I’d be a happy camper.

Here’s a quick analogy. Nine months ago my wife and I purchased a large breed dog from a top notch breeder. Okay, she’s a Goldendoodle (I’m over the emasculating feeling of saying “Goldendoodle” out loud). After a recent trip to the vet, we were told that she shows early signs of hip dysplasia, even though there is no genetic history in her bloodlines. Hip dysplasia is a condition that may not become serious, but there’s a chance that her genes could cripple her in the future.

What does this have to do with Pandora? Rod Stewart is hip dysplasia.

    Rod Stewart Golden Doodle

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Woody December 3, 2006 at 5:46 am

As someone who grew up listening to Maiden on my ‘box’ on the street corner, I have enojyed all the technological advances in obtaining and finding music. Rhapsody, Itunes, blogs, emusic, etc. All very cool.

But I have never been impressed with Pandora. Music is not about genes and other scientific formulas. Its about soul. Music either has it or it doesn’t. Chuck D has soul. Jeff Buckley has soul. DBT has soul. No formula can measure how a song is going to resonate with an individual.

So I’ll continue to depend on friend’s reccomendations, trusted sights and just random comments on emusic, itunes, etc. Seems to have worked so far.

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