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Pandora's Box On The Internet
By Jerry Flattum - 06/28/2006 - 08:21 AM EDT springs forth from the Music Genome Project, spearheaded by founder, Tim Westergren. Backed by a musical and technological management team and a staff of 30 musician-analysts (give or take), Pandora hand-picks each tune based on various criteria, like melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics and other dozens of other musical elements. has a lower profile than it's iTunes/Napster counterparts, but this could change. Six years in the making, could very well become a major force in the music industry, combining radio, CD/mp3 sales, a feature called Backstage (similar to, and the potential to be a record label. The label idea is speculation, but Pandora is already in the business of promotion and licensing and introducing new artists to new audiences.

The Pandora interface is remarkably easy to use. A listener plugs in the name of an artist or song title and Pandora automatically creates a radio station of similar artists, titles and styles. Stations are interactive and personal. Stations can be saved or deleted and modified based on a thumbs up/down choice. If a song gets overplayed, the listener simply chooses to not play it for a month. Stations can also be renamed. A scrolling feature lets a listener see what was already played and a skip feature let's you jump to the next song.

Bare in mind the selections are not just limited to new artists. It's a great way to hear classics and current top-of-the-charts in virtually every genre imaginable. No, it doesn't include every song ever recorded...but they're working on it.

It's no secret that when songwriters are working on a new tune, they explore their music collections and radio stations looking for something similar to inspire a beat, discover a twist on the use of vocals or instrument arrangements, or compare any other component that might be involved in the new song. For instance, let's say the song calls for a slide guitar. Plug in Ry Cooder or Bonnie Raitt, sit back, and discover a wide range of songs and artists that use slide guitar.

Unfortunately, you can't explore by plugging in the musical element or genre. Perhaps this will be an upcoming feature in the future. Meanwhile, If you want a series of reggae tunes, you'll have to come up with a reggae artist or title first.

It's also a great way to hear a song or artist you haven't heard in a long time.

There's nothing to download, although you do need to log-in. Logging-in to Pandora is not an inconvenience since it's the way to save your personalized radio stations. There's no glut of commercials invading your search. If you want to buy the song, there's a quick link to iTunes and Amazon (iTunes requires downloading the iTunes installer).

Pandora was not created by corporate entities hell-bent on Platinum sales. It was created by musicians and folks who love music. is an amazing way to discover new music (and artists) that sources like terrestrial radio, MTV, VH1 and Billboard fail to do. For instance, Celine Dion is a great artist and extremely popular. But lesser-known Lara Fabian is her equal in every respect, a discovery Pandora will reveal, along with a pethora of other similar divas. In traditional outlets, sales is the bottom line. At Pandora, the bottom line is music.

There is also a Pandora Blog site

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