Oct 27 2008

I ♥ Barry Manilow?

Yes, I ♥ Barry Manilow—according to Pandora, anyway.  Pandora is a very cool free online radio station from the Music Genome Project.  There are plenty of music players that will serve music based on artist or genre, but Pandora gets more sophisticated.  It classifies songs based on things like major or minor key, tonality, style, tempo, and lots of music terms I don’t understand, then tries to match them to your taste.  So you can start a “station” by selecting a single song, and it’ll serve up other songs with similar attributes, learning as it goes by letting you vote songs up or down.  That means it can find songs you’ll have a good chance of liking in genres you don’t normally explore.

So, I started it off with Rick Springfield, Beethoven, Ivan Neville, Donnie Iris, and a handful of others, and it started giving me some pretty good selections.  Occasionally I have to click the “Never Ever Ever Play This Again” button, like when it tried the Police, but mostly it guesses what I like pretty well.  Lately I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of Manilow it sends me, and I have to say, it’s really pretty good.  I’m not going to run out and get a Barry Rules T-shirt or anything, but his songs are upbeat and light, just the sort of thing that works well when I’m at work.  Mandy, I Write the Songs, Even Now: all pleasant, listenable songs.  It’s also sent me some Neil Diamond and other stuff like that, and I really can’t complain.  I find myself humming along and not getting annoyed with it, which is the ultimate test.

There are a couple things I’d like to change.  It replays songs too often:  no matter how much I like a song, I don’t need to hear it three or four times a day.  It also seems to prefer live music to the studio version, and I rarely do.  Maybe that has something to do with their licensing, or something about my picks so far makes it think I like live versions.

Those are minor issues, though.  For the most part, I think it’s a great service.  If you ever listen to music online, check it out.  My account name is “aaron694,” if you want to listen to my station and hum along to Copacabana with me.

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