Monday, February 22, 2010

Pandora, Music Lover's Dream Come True

Few aspects of modern life have been more affected by the digital revolution than the music industry. The way music is performed, recorded, edited and distributed, paid for and listened to all have been revolutionized. Personal collections of recorded music, once filling shelves in the family room, are now carried around in your pocket. Browsing through a “record store” looking for some hard to find treasure is now done on line and rather than waiting for the “record” or “CD” to be delivered, it is available instantly as a down load.

I recently was introduced to an online service that will be of special interest to those who like to explore various genres of music as well as those who have very specific musical tastes. The service is called, and just like its namesake this Pandora’s Box is brimming with surprises. Unlike the mythic box, the surprises are delightful.

When you sign on to Pandora using your computer or smart phone, you are asked to “create a new station.” This can be based on a genre of music like classical, country, rock, etc. or more specifically based on a single performer like Michael Jackson, James Taylor or Frank Sinatra. You can also specify a single composer like John Williams, John Denver or Johann Sebastian Bach.

Once you enter the information, Pandora will create a “station” just for you and begin playing music based on your preferences. The search technology is similar to the one used by; “If you liked this book you might be interested in this other book.”

The really neat thing about Pandora is that the selections made by Pandora can result in music you would have never sampled but when you hear it you really like it. If you hear a song that you don’t like, you click on it, and Pandora stops playing it and uses that information to learn more about your tastes and make more informed selections in the future. You can set up several “stations” so you can listen based on your mood. While reading a book perhaps some classical sections are best. Cutting the lawn or jogging, U-2 fits the bill.

Pandora comes in different flavors. You can use it free for 40 hours a month with a few commercials per hour. For a subscription of $39.00 a year you can get an upgraded version with no commercials and better audio fidelity and no limit on the number of hours you use it. All versions give you lots of information about the music, the performer and composer. You can even order the music online as a MP-3 download or follow a link to purchase a CD.

Pandora can be used on your desktop or laptop computer as well on most mobile devices. If you use it on a mobile device make sure you have an unlimited data plan or you will have a surprise the when you get your next bill from your carrier.

If you like music, I recommend trying Pandora. I have it playing in the background often when I am writing. In fact right now I am listening to Loggins & Messina.

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