April 3, 2007

listen up




When I was in high school and college, I was fascinated by radio, and worked at many stations. In fact my first full time job out of college was for a radio station as an on-air personality and promotions director. I haven't worked in radio for years, and the dismal stations in LA have diminished my interest in radio. Its an industry that is making itself irrelevant, in my view.

A few months ago Newsweek listed a website called Pandora as one of its picks. Pandora is one of many sites that lets you build your own streaming internet radio stations. What I like about Pandora is that it analyzes your song and artist choices for hundreds of attributes, and based on those, plays other music of similar qualities. You don't have to build playlists; like radio once did, it introduces you to new music that you may like based on what it knows you do like. The selections aren't always on target, but the more information you give, the better it gets. I'm kind of fascinated by the level of analysis. For instance, one song on my "collegetrax" station was chosen because my choices often include "electronica influences, extensive vamping, synthetic sonority, and prominent synth drums"; another song was chosen because of "pop rock qualities, a subtle use of vocal harmony, thru composed melodic style, major key tonality, and subtle use of strings." On my country station, one song was because of "country roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, acoustic rhythm piano, a vocal-centric aesthetic and major key tonality", while another was "country roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, meandering melodic phrasing, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation and thru composed melodic style." Its interesting to find common features among songs of formats that you would not expect to have anything in common.

I've added a link to the top-right where you can listen to my stations. To date, I've built three stations that cover my main listening habits: one of current generally upbeat "hot" country, another based around 80s-90s progressive tracks, and a third of mellow acoustic/folk-ish music. If you don't like a song, you can fast-forward past it, but you are limited to the number of songs you can skip in an hour. The music labels are pushing legislation through Congress that could end streaming music as we know it, so enjoy it now while you can!
  • My Pandora streaming radio stations
  • 2 comments:

    MICK said...

    FYI For those of us still living in the 20th century and using dial-up, Pandora does not support it.

    ...sigh.

    jon berry said...

    no? I didn't know that. I'm sorry. And you were someone I thought would love it, too... drat!