When Pandora Internet Radio first popped up on the web a year ago, I visited it often but in the press of business and activities gradually forgot about it. Today, I remembered. I’m glad I did. Over the course of an hour or so, out of Pandora’s box came, in succession, Cannonball Adderley, Von Freeman, Donald Harrison, Hank Mobley, Eddie Higgins, Dave Brubeck with Gerry Mulligan, Russell Malone, Ellis Marsalis, Clara Nunez (new to me), Elis Regina and Lee Morgan.
Pandora, powered by something called the Music Genome Project, customizes playlists based on the music you request. It asks you if you like the piece you’re hearing. You reply by clicking on a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down icon. By this interactive means, before long Pandora knows your taste and preferences and offers you options for change.
Pandora seems able to find virtually any jazz, pop, country, Latin or rock musician, but offers no classical music. When I requested Aaron Copland, I got this query: “Do you want the artist Aaron Comess?” When I asked for Charles Ives, “Do you want ‘Charles Ives’ by Frank Zappa?” A request for Franz Schubert brought, “Do you want ‘Franz Schubert’ by Kraftwerk?” You can have Dr. Dre but not Debussy, Cash but not Callas, Springsteen but not Shostakovich.
A disappointment for information junkies is that Pandora does not give the names of sidemen, only of leaders or featured performers. Who was the other guitarist I just heard dueting with Emily Remler? But why complain? Pandora is free, supported by advertising on the screen and also, I presume, by a percentage of sales to those who follow its links to websites and buy CDs. In return for the existence of that bit of commerce you can, in effect, build a rotating library of music you like and occasionally be delivered a surprise. A version free of advertising is available by subscription for thirty-six dollars a year.
From Rifftides reader Mel Narunsky :
It should be pointed out that this service is available only in the US – anyone outside the US will not be able to log in to this service.