Parsing Pandora

The web-based, personalized radio service of Pandora is fast approaching its one-year anniversary, and we’re wondering: Does anyone even use this fucking thing?

In a recent profile in the New York Times, the site claims three million registered users but still no profits (revenues are generated from advertisements and commission on sales elicited from “buy” links).

Here’s NYT’s breakdown:

Bit by bit, Pandora?s music analysts have built a massive archive of data, cataloging the minute characteristics of more than 500,000 songs, from alt-country to bossa nova to metal to gospel, for what is known as the Music Genome Project.

At pandora.com visitors are invited to enter the name of their favorite artist or song and to get in return a stream of music with similar ?DNA,? in effect a private Internet radio station microtailored to each user?s tastes.

The article describes a process in which music analysts “rate hundreds of traits” of each of Pandora’s over 500,000 songs on a five-point scale, but our brief test run suggested a basic system built on tagging of similar-sounding artists, yielding unimaginative, predictable playlists. That is, when we picked Jay-Z and The Beatles, we weren’t expecting The Grey Album (obvs), but were hoping for something a little more creative than Biggie Smalls followed by The Who followed by Diddy. Not sure what we wanted to hear but, like, isn’t that the point?

Granted, we didn’t play long enough to personalize our stations with track-by-track votes (given by a thumbs up or down), so we’re looking to you to convince us of the service’s merits (or to share your skepticism). As far as we can tell, they may need more adroit splicers to fuse that DNA.

But this may be the most compelling argument for Pandora yet; Tech Recipes tells you how to rip and save Pandora-played music to MP3 files! (Link via Lifehacker.) Maybe the service ain’t too bad, after all.