Pandora Radio – Reloaded

PandoraIt has been a long time since I have really made any mention of Pandora Radio here on Mephistos. Be sure though that the lack of mention does not mean that I have not been using it. In fact, with all the extra options for the user of the wonderful technology I regularly max on the free account. Clearly, with all the great new options it is more than past time to revisit the product. For those that are not aware of the product, a brief synopsis is in order. It is a streaming internet based radio that will work on a genre or you can seed the music with a specific artist or even a single song. The great thing is the database of music information (via the Music Genome Project) they have that finds similar music to present to you on the stream.

You do not really care for a song or do not think it fits the genre/mood you have going, hit skip and jumps past it. You also have options for like and dislike (or thumbs up or down). If you do the later, dislike, the song will be blocked from your stream in the future and it appears that is probably across all stations (a station is what you are setting up when you do the seeding mentioned above). Give it a thumbs up and it will alter the criteria of the station to include more of that kind of music in the stream going forward.

There in lies the one complaint I have about Pandora, but let me come back to that one after I mention a few of the great things about Pandora first. Clearly it is just an awesome product. I thought that about two or more years ago and have even more reason to think that today.

First is the rundown of the free product. It is, relatively speaking a smaller stream. Music quality is a bit lower, but I am not a sound engineer so I do not notice. I get forty hours for free, with just two little nags. The occasional ad in my listening stream and the timeout if I have not clicked back in Pandora with a certain amount of time. Neither are such a big deal in my opinion, as the ads are far, far less than you will find on any radio station. There is also a limit on the skips, but in my usage I have hit that twice.

New since my last mention are the two things one would expect. Social media aspects are built-in now. Currently their options for sharing what you are listening to back to Facebook and Twitter in a couple of different ways, but they basically put them in your news-stream and even allow friends/followers to listen to snippets. You can also share, in a similar fashion, artist and stations. Expect a Google+ option to follow along soon, at least that my guess.

The other big new option is the support on the mobile platforms. Currently supported platforms include Windows Mobile (their phone OS), Android, Blackberry, Palm OS, and of course iPhone, which by extension includes iPad. I can only attest to the iPad, but I can say it awesome to have music of whatever I want to listen to whenever and wherever you are.

Clearly there is a premium paid service. I am not sure I can see the value of that though. It gives more listening time, more skips, higher quality, the ability to ‘skin’ the player, and of course no ads. There really are not that many ads and the rest is kind of wash unless you are streaming at the office every day as well as when you are listening at home. Being an IT professional I frown greatly on streaming on work bandwidth so I suggest you avoid it, less you should be in violation of some acceptable usage policy.

Back to my one issue… You have a channel you really like, one of the first I ever set up way back when was Johnny Cash. At the time I had limited music by the Man in Black, due to most of mine being on vinyl. Loved it and enjoyed it greatly. Of course some of later stuff is very, lets say, different then his old stuff and so a lot of oddball stuff was presented in my stream. As I ‘liked‘ these things, my channel got so far away from Johnny Cash that it has become nearly unrecognizable. It is nice to have a moving channel while listening in a particular session, but when I come back to it next week I really want it to be Johnny Cash and artist that are very similar to him. If not that, maybe a rest to base line button would be a good option.

** – Image by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, downloaded from ArtinthePicture.com.