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Michael Koss and Tim Westergren

An Evening with Pandora Radio

The way we listen to music is changing and perhaps no other company has affected that change – or responded to it – more than Pandora Internet Radio, the automated music recommendation service and custodian of the Music Genome Project.

For those unfamiliar with the free website/app, Pandora invites users to submit an artist, song, or album, and will then “capture the essence” of that piece by assigning it musical attributes, such as Intricate Arranging, Danceable Grooves, or Acoustic Sonority. The Music Genome Project has identified over 400 musical attributes.

To test whether their algorithm was a success, Pandora began with a Beatles song. After the software had completely analyzed the music, it recommended a track by the Bee Gees. The Pandora team was frustrated, thinking that the system was flawed, but in actuality, the songs shared many similar characteristics and did, in fact, work.

It really is quite fascinating how the service applies human-like traits to a wide variety of music. The Project created an amazing collection of music analysis solely for the greater good of helping the user explore more of the music they love.

Pandora founder Tim Westergren visited the home of Koss Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Thursday, October 13, to host a user “Town Hall” forum and meet-and-greet at the Iron Horse hotel. The conference room was packed for a night of discussion and idea sharing with the successful innovator.

Pandora Town Hall Meeting

Pandora wasn’t always a raving success, as Tim tells it that evening. There were many bumps in the road.  From a difficult struggle for funding and 347 unsuccessful venture pitches, to employees working years at a time for no pay all for a product they believed in, Pandora took the good with the bad and overcame to become a household name in the music industry.

But as the music industry continues to evolve, where is Pandora heading? An indicator was the show of hands during the discussion, by which a substantial majority acknowledged that they listen to Pandora on their smartphones. A significant amount of them also listen to it in their cars.

The Milwaukee crowd was also anxious to see greater controls over station curation, and the ability to weigh in on what specific quality of the music they would prefer.

Are you using Pandora? What would you like to see from the music listening service? 

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