Pandora is pitch perfect for the music fan

Sep 30, 2009
Music

There’s a reason Pandora Radio remains one of the most popular iPhone apps since it was introduced a year ago. It rocks, and in just the right tone. Pandora is a recommendation engine for music, letting listeners create radio stations based on their particular tastes. If you like AC/DC, create a station based on the Australian rockers […]

There’s a reason Pandora Radio remains one of the most popular iPhone apps since it was introduced a year ago. It rocks, and in just the right tone.

Pandora is a recommendation engine for music, letting listeners create radio stations based on their particular tastes. If you like AC/DC, create a station based on the Australian rockers to hear songs like “Highway to Hell,” but you’ll also get songs from bands with a similar sound pedigree, such as Black Sabbath. Maybe you prefer the more current sound from Spoon. If so, you will hear Andrew Bird as well, or even classic Steely Dan, which Pandora considers as artists that use similar melodic phrasing or complex instrumentation.

The Pandora approach is great for listening because you are guaranteed to hear songs that appeal to you. Still, a few affronts to your hearing will pop up and when that happens, you click on the thumbs-down symbol to tell Pandora not to play that song again. The point of the thumbs down button, and a thumbs up sign for songs you like, is to help Pandora refine what the user wants to hear.

For example, if you hear a Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen song on your AC/DC channel, press the thumbs down button to stop it from playing again. But if a David Lee Roth-era Van Halen song plays, you might give that a thumbs up. Pandora will learn never to play Sammy Hagar songs but will give you David Lee Roth from time to time.

I’ve created several channels on Pandora, including ones for Ben Folds, Common, Gnarls Barkley and John Coltrane. But my favorite tool is the quick mix station, which combines all those artists along with similar ones into a station that never gets dull. You’ll discover new music and hear gems that remind you of your youth.

Pandora is hardly the only cool iPhone music app–others I like include KCRW Radio, Slacker Radio and Wunder Radio. The free app was among the first to show the iPhone’s potential as a music-playing device even better than the built-in iPod. Pandora remains one of the best. 

Search for more

Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

    Home Apps Games