Pandora

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Pandora Online Radio

Pandora Online Radio has created a unique spin on the idea of online streaming music. When a user visits Pandora for the first time they choose a song they would like to hear. However, Pandora does not necessarily play the song or even a song by that artist. Pandora, instead, plays songs with similar characteristics. Pandora profiles all songs played based upon a pool of over 400 song traits which are combined into larger groups to make up over 2,000 focus traits. Traits such as “basic rock structures,” “paired vocal harmony,” or “major key tonality,” to name a few.

Music Info.png

Once songs begin to play the user can rate the songs selected by Pandora. Pandora then selects the next song based upon user ratings; basically, the more songs a user rates the better chance Pandora has of playing a song the user will enjoy. Over time Pandora builds a profile of songs and traits of songs that the user has enjoyed as well as those they did not like. After setting up a Pandora account, users can access their radio from any source that has an internet connection. Users can store up to 100 stations online for further variety.

Pandora History

Pandora radio is the brain child of Tim Westergren and some fellow musicians. The initial investment of $1.5 million was given to them from angel investors. It was all started in January of 2000 but was initially named Savage Beast Technologies and was primarily focused on making a music-recommendation engine.

After battling against the stock market crash in the spring of 2000 and the dot-com bubble bursting in 2000-2001, Savage Beast Technologies was forced to file bankruptcy after just a year and a half of being in business. Westergren was not to be deterred, and continued the business by maxing out multiple credit cards until receiving some bridge loans to keep them afloat. Westergren was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying “it was either figure it out or go to Mexico” about this time period.

During 2003 the company signed a licensing agreement with both AOL and Best Buy. Best Buy used the music recommendation engine in their music kiosks. In March of 2004, after pitching the idea to use his music-recommendation software to make an online radio station hundreds of time he finally got a bite from a couple of venture capital companies who supplied the soon to be Pandora with $9 million of funding.

After working with many musicians and music loving techies they got the website up and running in late 2005. Pandora Media started calling there site the music genome project. This project was designed to look at music more in depth to figure out why certain types of music are enjoyed by certain types of people and this knowledge can be used to help make a better individualized radio station for their listeners. They make money by selling advertising space in the free sector of their site and also have paying members that don’t want to be bothered with the advertisements that come with the free site.

Currently Pandora Media is working under $20 million of funding and employees over 130 employees. They have a goal of becoming a stand-alone company but Westergren does not see that happening anytime in the immediate future.


Getting Started

To start things off you will need to log on to http://www.pandora.com/. Once you are on that website in the top right you will see a register button. Press that button and the following screen should appear.

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When you get to the register screen you will be asked to enter your email address, a password, birth year, zip code, and your gender. Be sure to check the “I agree to the terms and services button.” Then you must hit the continue button. After the initial setup you will only be asked to enter you email address and password. You will then be prompted to invite friends but you can skip this step if you want to get to the music faster. It will then ask you for an artist or song so that you it can start compiling music that matches your preferences. After that you can start listening to the music you requested and request more!

Song Information

Not only does Pandora play the music but, it also provides a wealth of information about the music playing. Artists, album, and song information is available for all of the song on Pandora. These features allow a user to find basic information about an artist, find similar artists, and even purchase the song online as an MP3. Additionally, a user can see what other Pandora users with similar interests are listening to.

Music Info.png

Video Series

Pandora decided that merely music wasn’t enough to fully appreciate the music experience. To that end, Pandora recently has added a Video Series section to the webpage. All videos are filmed in a documentary type format and aim to supplement user’s musical interests. There are three main sections to Video Series: On Stage & More which profiles local artists at venues around the country, In the Studio which follows artists as they work to develop and record new music, and Music 101 which has videos follows on basic music knowledge like playing an instrument, or a history of a certain genre.

VideoSeries.png


Keep the Music Flowing

If you’re using Pandora Radio, as an individual or in a corporate setting, odds are you are getting the same results. The different, basic functions of Pandora radio do not differ depending on the type of user, but there are some aspects in which a corporation might be more interested in comparison to an individual. It has been mentioned that Pandora is a free service to any and all interested parties, but how does this service continue running if there are no associated costs? Corporations, through advertisements and sponsorships on the popular site, help to keep it running. One of the perks of advertising with Pandora is that the company can use precision and specifications when trying to target a certain audience. The radio stations played on someone’s profile are unique to that person, built off of his or her likes and dislikes. The ads are generated much in the same way. Pandora uses the basic demographic information provided in a user’s account, their music preferences, and other customer specific information to an ad of just one brand at a time on the user’s interface. That way, the advertiser knows that their product or brand name is in direct contact with the consumer.

Pandora has also recently been partnering with companies that offer complementary products. One of their biggest achievements has been to become an available application for downloading on the iPhone, Sprint, and AT&T services.

Hurdles to Jump

As Pandora is starting to really take off, the free radio station has been working lately to overcome some serious obstacles. The Copyright Royalty Board voted recently to increase royalty rates for internet radio sites, based on the fact that they were paying much lower rates than satellite and analog radio stations. The result would be that these sites that run almost entirely off of advertising would have to shell out almost 70% of their revenues in royalty payments. While this is being sorted out, Pandora and other internet radio sites are trying to figure out ways to rectify the situation and/or circumvent the potential losses.

Not only is Pandora radio fighting the long arm of the law, but everyday they have to deal with the fact that they are not the only free internet radio site out there in cyber-land. This blogger was recently recommended a site which can be found at www.imeem.com that allows a user to pick and choose the songs they want to listen to, and one can also listen to an entire, newly released album from his or her favorite artist FOR FREE! I don’t know what contracts this site has or what they are doing to be able to operate in such a manner, but if Pandora Radio doesn’t pick up the slack, they could be staring into the face of some pseudo-Goliath competitors.

Pandora in Education

Pandora can be used in music appreciation courses, to add a soundtrack to a class presentation, or to provide a mood prior to class start. Other informational broadcasts and programs can be found on Pandora and assigned for homework or listened to in class as a discussion starter.

Conclusion

Pandora Radio provides users with access to a full music experience. All someone needs to sign up is internet access, an email address and a passion for music. Once enrolled, members can start a radio station based on their personal preferences or listen to a genre station created by Pandora and pick and choose as the station generates music from their selections. There are so many other ways to enjoy Pandora’s site that you could be exploring for hours! The creator has spent many years getting the site up and running and has had to overcome quite a few obstacles, with still others out there to be conquered. The best thing a member can do is to use the site, enjoy the music, and spread the good word so that free internet radio can continue to be a part of our lives.


See Also

References

http://www.pandora.com

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/pandora-rare-startup-cool-product/story.aspx?guid=%7BD7C5CD70%2D2086%2D4F44%2DBF68%2DBE3F2995FDA3%7D

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/pandora-radio-fights-unjust-royalty/story.aspx?guid=%7B9FBD9633%2D9624%2D41CC%2D9193%2D837F8FEEEA36%7D&siteid=nwhfriend

The information from this post was mostly found at www.pandora.com under the advertising link. http://www.pandora.com/static/media_kit.html

Originally developed as a Class project by Allie Hanson