Pandora Radio

I know I am late to the Pandora party, but now that I am a full out lover of the wonderful (lack of) randomness that it offers me I am hooked. I’ve used it on my computer while traveling before, but since the introduction of the application for the iPhone and iPod Touch my use of it has soared. I have a handful of artist “radio stations” set up and typically just mash them all together to get an amazing mix of the stuff I know I like and the stuff Pandora thinks I like. Crazy thing is that Pandora has been right nearly all the time — we’re talking about batting close to 1000 here.

I installed it on my iPod Touch and just leave it connected to the stereo so we can listen to the mix throughout the house and in the backyard. Last night, while sitting on the patio, I asked my wife why in the World would anyone need to steal music when you can simply tune in for free? She responded with, “why would anyone need to buy any music?” What do musicians and the RIAA think about it?

Both of us were just marveling in the simple pleasure of the most intelligent radio station we’d ever listened to. Got me thinking that as we continue to do our part to help inform students to the ills of illegal file sharing and stealing music this could be part of the solution. We are getting set to release our Copyright Perspectives campaign in the coming week and I have to wonder if promoting Pandora is appropriate … I figured better ask the Internets!

I wonder how increased Pandora use would impact bandwidth — both personal quotas in the dorms and as a whole across the University. I’d like to hear from some of the more technically savvy folks out there — is this a good thing to promote across our campus as an alternative to illegal file sharing? I ask because I have no idea. We’ve had to impose bandwidth restrictions in the residence halls to help curb the constant use that file sharing causes, but what happens when more and more of the legal alternatives are all network services? I am thinking about the students who buy the online viewing package for College Football, the kids who buy all their movies and TV shows from iTunes, upload tons of RAW photos to Flickr, or tune exclusively into Pandora … what should we be thinking about?

5 thoughts on “Pandora Radio

  1. I was a bit late to the Pandora bandwagon myself and have quickly come to use it every day. A few things to note from my 110 course when we talked about Pandora (quite a lively discussion actually):

    – Pandora doesn’t make much of an impact on bandwidth in the dorms (so says the students). They are more concerned about STEAM and TV over the wire

    – About 1/2 of my students use it regularly

    – Only 2-3 students use ‘ONLY’ pandora: most use a mix of Ruckus, LastFM, Pandora, and others

    We had a good discussion around Pandora with regards to HOW it chooses songs. LastFM and other streaming, social music channels focus on aggregating peoples’ suggestions. “People who liked Scarlet Begonias also liked Warehouse…” that type of stuff. Pandora seems to select purely on code; the code breaks down the music DNA of each song, and matches the DNA with other songs in the database.

    Two very different methods of how the channel determines the song, and it appears that the computer beats out the humans in this case.

    …unless you want to listen to metal. The metal-heads in my class tell me Pandora is terrible at recommending good metal. Maybe it’s too fast for the code? 🙂

  2. I’m relatively new; I’ve had a lightly used account, so thanks for the prompt to go back and look. It’s interesting to look at the differences between Pandora (which plays over the net) and last.FM (which connects the net effects to your locally owned content).

    I realize you have to deal with issues of the current system of music licensing, but such services seem to be knocking at the door of the seemingly antiquated business model of music, based on a (failing) attempt to control distribution of music and charge for it. Pretty much a sad desperate dutch boy trying to keep a finger in the dike, in total ignorance of the water behind it.

    Both services lead to people discovering new music (and related items) they ultimately buy (last.FM in particular linked to Amazon); I recall there is a resurgence in many places of revenue for musicians form live performances.

    It’s far from my expertise to conjecture, but perhaps songs themselves may not be the things that the businesses are built around; they are the “vehicle” for people to discover more music, pay for concerts, t-shirts, go out and buy musical equipment, etc… Trying to control its distribution seems to be a losing proposition.

    So if you really wanted to take a wild ride on my metaphor train; can we do some substitution of “higher education” for “record companies” and “learning content” for “songs”?

    Just a half thought with less then enough company. Keep the Blog a Day posts coming! Love them.

  3. Alan … I really like the extended metaphor of music v open access to knowledge. I think both business models are ripe for changing. I also agree that exposure to new stuff leads to commercial opportunities. Just last night I did purchase a song that I was listening to on Pandora for the first time. Right from in the iPod Touch interface you can click to buy from iTunes … I did, the song paused, I purchased it, and when I came back to Pandora it continued to play that song. Worked perfectly.

    Same could hold true in an open content world — you are engaged in some self paced learning, decide you want the credit, so you could easily opt into completing the class by instantly registering. Probably a bit further off than the Pandora example, but still viable.

  4. Thanks for the great post. We’d love to be part of your student campaign. Let us know how we can help. Pandora is definitely a great alternative to file sharing and other illegal/high bandwidth consuming alternatives.

    Drop me a note anytime:


    Tim Westergren (Founder, Pandora)

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