iPhone + Pandora = open sesame

According to Slate
(formerly, Salon’s) tech writer Farhad Manjooreviewing the
iPhone makeover and cool third-party programs that optomize its
potential, the expense and hassle of securing the new device is worthwhile
if only for mobile access to Pandora.com.   The personally-programmed radio site has captivated me, too
— Pandora’s Music Genome Project reliably
streams known and unknown music I like — jazz-beyond-jazz — on my B **tches Brew “station”
in surprising juxtapositions and successions.
Virtually free, nearly boundless music exploration at one’s fingertips!

What Pandora does is allow anyone to plant seeds of favorite artists and songs, then let her take over the tune selection. She presumably employs some 50 professional musicologists analyzing pieces on the basis of 400 musical attributes to arrive at an unfolding playlist which you can tweak with directions at it unfurls. Delightful hours of listening result.
I don’t have an iPhone (yet), nor an iPod; I prefer open air sounds of the city to channeling anything directly into my ear canals. However, I discovered Pandora ages ago and set up a station (free via laptop internet connection) that I haven’t previously shared. B**tches Brew Radio springs from “seeds” I planted of Miles Davis, Anoushka Shankar, Ali Farka Toure with Toumani Diabate, Betty Carter, Jelly Roll Morton, Otis Redding, Arsenio Rodriguez, Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery and Jefferson Airplane. I profile it as:
Aiming at a jazz-beyond-jazz: heightened, gutsy, global, time-traveling music, dynamically wide-ranging and sometimes psychedelic. Lots of rhythm and swing, few ballads. A work in progress, of course.

By which I mean I keep fiddling with the seeds, trying to come up with a perfect mix of the modal and chord-running, electronic and acoustic, instrumental and vocal, rootsy or abstract, Asian and Afro-Caribbean, familiar and unimaginable. Or I just enjoy what’s coming up without having to make a selection, also without ads and announcers.  If you’d like to check my station out; go to Pandora, set up a free account, go to Share>Find a shared station, then put my email: hman@jazzhouse.org  Or send me an email at that address and I’ll email you a link. Unfortunately, there’s no way to post a direct link here.

Pandora has evidently been trying to find a way to offer its service transportably, and the iPhone may be the perfect berth (pricey for a transistor radio, though). According to Majoo,

iPhone users have streamed 3 million tracks through Pandora, and [Tim] Westergren [Pandora’s founder, a composer] says they’re listening for an average of nearly an hour a day. It’s been up for less than a week . . .

As consumption and delivery changes, don’t expect music to stay the same, but hear what’s happening. . . .

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  1. says

    thanks for posting about this.
    love pandora! i’m not very good at keeping my itunes music from multiple computers organized – or on my iphone – so this is the perfect solution. (and of course you have the added benefits of discovering new music and honing your perfect station!)

  2. says

    You’re making me pine for the days when Pandora was available in Canada. At least we (finally — and without good pricing) have the iPhone here in the wilderness!

  3. Kofi Martin says

    I think this is wonderful technology. Is there a prominent program for orchestral music? I find that Pandora does a great job in promoting music, but lacks a bit in orchestral offerings that are customizable in the way that Pandora tracks and recommends.
    HM: Good question. I’ve got to admit I have not tried to find any orchestral music using Pandora, though I’d be pleased if contemporary compositions (last 100 yrs,, for instance) entered my mix. I do wonder how deep some of the genre selections go — Pandora does not know artists I’ve tried to introduce into my seeds including King Sunny Ade and Myra Melford. I assume there’s Stravinsky, Bartok, Arvo Part, Elliot Carter, George Crumb, Terry Riley . . .it’s easy enough to find out, by creating a new “station” with those names (or Bach, Beethoven, Brahms; whomsoever) then listening for what comes up.

  4. says

    Yes, they do a pretty good job, and all of a sudden we see us here at home running Pandora all the time. However, they only play music artists or their label sent to them.
    The people they hire to categorize music have limits, though. We were delighted to read that John Cage appears to be “IDM-influenced”, hehehehe…..