Pandora Had Me Until Disco was Mixed with Seventies Rock

This afternoon I was turned on to Pandora an old(even though many people haven't heard of it before) internet radio station company that reinvents itself on a regular basis.

I've read about them dozens of times in magazines like Wired, but never gave them a try. Today I was doing a few things in FaceBook when I was given the quick ability to give them a try.

I was hooked.

I was rapidly finding some music that I liked and that was virally pointing me to some new music I hadn't heard of before.

Then Pandora's Box must have come completely off its hinges. Before I knew it I had Journey getting mixed into play on channels that were supposed to play disco, Peter Gabriel was following hard rock on the Nine Inch Nails Channel and for dozens of songs in a row I was stuck listening to garbage!


I was in Internet Radio Hell!

Pandora is supposed to look at your musical tastes, compare those tastes to other people and with the music selections that the music experts at Pandora use, make music suggestions to you that should help you keep your groove on.

But when it goes wrong and sends you a series of songs that you don't like, you can skip through two or three until you get a message stating that their license does not allow them to let you skip through more music until you listen to some more (crap).

From a Facebook perspective I rapidly ran into some problems as well. I was able to subscribe to some of my favorite groups and singers. However, I rapidly learned that many or most of them only had their most current albums listed in Pandora. So I could not really get in there and share or list my favorite songs by my favorite singers and groups.

The most annoying thing about the service though seems to be the fact that once it gets off track, you can't redirect it. Its like having a friend come over to your house, jump in to your music collection and suddenly pull out a bunch of really bad music that you received for christmas from a distant aunt that has no clue what music you like and then having that person play that music over and over again.

You can't hit stop, you can't hit skip, you can't tell them to turn that crap off or play something in a different genre.

That last word is the key here. There appears to be no genre of music on Pandora to help get the service guided back on track. So if your resident Pandoran expert chooses unwisely (for you), you are stuck with their suggestions and can't say, "Hey you fool, that's not rock n roll, that's not funky dance music, that's techno dance music, that's not acid house that's house, that's not rap that's R & B, that's not hip hop, that pop. You can tell it song after song that you don't like the song, but that doesn't seem to register quick enough to improve the next song in the play list.

Maybe even more important, if you want to hear 'more' from an artist, you just can't. This is (internet) radio and they don't really play requests like that. You can buy music anytime you like, knock yourself out. But if you suddenly get the notion or reminder to listen to this great song by an artist you're just hosed.

For those of us that have lived for decades now in the instant gratification world of MP3 files, digital cameras and mobile email, this is a real bummer. The introduction to new music is nice, but be prepared to take a deep breath before diving through the chaff.

The service has some interesting potential, but it just doesn't seem intelligent or responsive enough yet to really live up to its true potential.

3 Responses:

Lucia @ Pandora said...

Hi Brett -

Sorry Pandora offended your music sensibilities!

Here's some tips on tuning your stations:

You can redirect your stations any time by editing your previous station feedback: in your left-hand station menu, click on the triangle next to the station and select 'edit this station.'

You can skip 6 songs per station per hour on Pandora, but if you run out of skips, you can always switch to a new station. :)

I hope that helps!

Lucia, from Pandora

BrettBum said...

Hey Lucia,

Thanks for the comment and the tip.

I have noticed that as I go back and give Pandora a second chance it does get a little better, but now when I listen to a channel, it always seems to start over and play the exact same songs (not sure about this, but think its true).

That's kind of different from my expectations for the service. If its playing internet radio songs, then mix them up, don't lock them down. If its a 'playlist' then call it a playlist instead of a channel.

So anyway, I'm still learning on this one, and finding a few things I like and some things that are a bit confusing. Like the internet media pundits have been saying for years, Pandora has potential.

Pandora just needs to get that potential out of her box!

The Mendoza Family said...

We have the same problem. During our Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson stations, we keep getting random hard core devil music. Makes zero sense. Thanks for posting!


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