The Rise of Pandora Radio

If you haven't heard of Pandora (www.pandora.com) by now, then this will be a first for you. Pandora radio is a fast rising internet radio station that lets you create your own stations (more on that later). I was skeptical at first, since Pandora looked like your basic internet radio setup. Plus there are lots of internet radio stations, and Last FM is doing well too, so big deal. Right? Well, if you are like me, and fed up with the current state of radio, who play the same ole' songs a billion times a day, then Pandora might be to your liking. There is only so much of my own songs I can listen to on my iPod and yes, CDs too (I still listen to them).

So what really sold me on Pandora was not it's internet radio capabilities, but the fact that it works with the iPhone. Woah! So what does that mean??? It means it's mobile. Yes, mobile, as in you can take it anywhere and it should work, even in the car. The iPhone's, er... AT&T's 3G network isn't lightning fast, but it still works most of the time. Some places will be a bit spotty, like for some reason, the big hole in my neighborhood, and I've also read that Pandora adjusts itself when the bandwidth switches to the 3G network or even the Edge network, and it makes it sound like mono. I guess that's the bullet you have to bite when listening to streaming radio. However, someone I know, said he listened to Pandora on the drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and it worked fine. So you might be surpised.

Wait, wait, wait... Besides being mobile, what the hell makes Pandora special anyway? Well, Pandora basically allows you to create a station, by naming a song or artist you like and then assembles a list of songs with similar attributes for you to listen. And you can give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the songs that are played, further adjusting to your liking. Kind of like a radio version of Tivo. So if you like The Killers, Pandora will bring up The Strokes and maybe The Bravery. And if you like them, then maybe Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and so on. You get the idea. Anyways, Pandora was actually started in 2000 when it was called the Music Genome Project.

Fast forward 9 years later, and here it is, catching quite a storm. In fact, last December, the Pandora application for the iPhone reached over 2 million downloads. And some are saying that it might kill Satellite radio. What??? Yup. Seriously, with the downward spiral of Sirius XM, which is really getting hit by the bad economy, Pandora presents a new algorithm, especially with it's mobile capabilities (rumors are abound that they are actually working on a mobile interface for the car).

The rise of Pandora brings up another problem (Yes, back to the problem page). Say if they were to become hugely popular, enough to make a commercial impact, then they'd probably want a bigger profit margin. Or maybe the music labels will push for a bigger chunk of the change. Well, some are theorizing that ads or subscription fees may be in store for the future of Pandora. That might suck... but if the technology for mobile content gets far more advanced by then, then that might be a small price many followers will pay. Unless, somehow Pandora magically turns into regular radio, with the music labels shoving their own artists down the listeners ears over and over again, Pandora is here to stay and will present a new way to market music. As for the music industry itself, they should take note (which they probably already are).

5 Ways Pandora can become even more kick ass

1 comment:

Phoebe said...

I also hope that the music labels will adapt (eventually) to giving people music the way they want it.

If you like Pandora, you might also have a look at Jinni (http://www.jinni.com). We recently opened in private beta and our approach to indexing movies is similar to Pandora's to music. (That is, by plot, mood, style, setting, etc.)