My musical taste has traditionally been pretty limited as I don’t take the time to find artists I like. Alright, limited is putting it kindly – I’ve been oblivious to just about everything beyond the 80’s soft rock I grew up hearing. Like, who are the Beatles oblivious – I kid you not.
This weekend I found the tool my sad repertoire has been lacking all these years. Pandora is the schnizzle – I can now create stations from “seeds” – so I give it an artist or a song that I have somehow discovered despite my lack of awareness of pop culture. Then the super accurate algorithms kick in and generate other songs that resemble the ones I’ve given it to work off. As I go along I give certain songs thumbs up and thumbs down which influence the choices. Basically it gets better and better at predicting my taste so that after about two hours of use it becomes a virtual mind reader. If I don’t like a song or an artist, I can vote it thumbs down – two thumbs down on the same artist bans the artist from the station. The only aspect I’ve seen that I don’t like is that there are a limited amount of times that I can skip songs due to license issues. If I run out of skips I’m forced to listen to something I don’t like even if I give it a thumbs down – I usually end up muting it and letting it run out. Other than that, great service that will keep me entertained for many hours to come.
How does it compare? Well I tried Last.fm and I will vouch for the relative poverty of the algorithms they use. I’ve been using it for several hours and it’s no closer to understanding what I want. Besides asking me to download a streaming software widget, they keep insisting that if I want to create basic things like a personal station I have to subscribe to their paid service. Hey, I just want to stream the music I like – I thought that was the basic service. I keep trying to get the artists that I want to play on the station and it seems to give me everything but. Not cool. The only somewhat decent feature was to let me listen to my friend’s stations. Even that got poor as I kept going – after several songs it pops up an alert that all the content has been used up. How does that work – I refreshed the station too and sometimes got more, sometimes got the pop up again. Whatever. I won’t be using that again – Pandora’s definitely got my ear, and I’ll be playing my rock and reggaeton happily ever after thanks to them.