Amongst internet radio stations, Pandora is probably considered the top. One of the first I encountered that is free and not a streaming “radio” station, Pandora is a great way to find new music.
How it works: Created by the Music Genome Project, Pandora uses a song title or artist that you search to create a station. (You have to create an account to use Pandora! Just be sure to view your profile settings and set them according to what you desire). I have 57 stations*; some from in reference to an artist, others based on a genre. Pandora then plays music based on your search then plays music it believes is somehow related to your search. For example, the instrumentation from one song influences Pandora to play another song by a different artist which may have similar instrumentation. It sounds a wee bit confusing, but somehow it seems to work. If you like a song, just give it a thumb up and if you don’t, give it a thumb down. If a song plays too much, you can “retire” it for a month or so. Pandora also provides a lot of information about the music and artists that play. Biographies are available, as well as lyrics and links to purchase music.
- There is a lot of variety to be found on Pandora. My Prince station plays everything from Robin Thicke to The Killers.
- You can find some GREAT music here that you might have never heard before. They seem to have access to a lot of material, old and new.
- The site is very easy to navigate.
- When a song plays, Pandora lists similar artists. You can build stations from those artists.
- You can make a ton of stations that reflect the range of musical tastes you have.
- Pandora explains why songs are chosen and gives you many options, such as moving songs to other stations.
- Quick Mix station: selecting this option will mix songs from all of your stations. You can choose which stations will mix.
- Friends of Pandora: having friends on Pandora gives you access to what your friends are listening to. You can also make a Quick Mix of a friend’s stations. Linking your Pandora account with your Facebook account affords even more options.
- There is a bookmark option that allows you to keep track of songs or artists. I use it to remember a song/artist I like, so I can find their music at the library or to purchase.
- Pandora can be used on the iPhone and many other cell phones.
- You can share your station via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. You can also make a station for someone.
- If you like a song, it will play very frequently. That’s probably why you can “retire” it.
- You cannot thumb down an artist so they will never play again. Some of my stations play people I would never listen to and unfortunately, I can’t do anything about that.
- You can only thumb down six songs per day. Yeah, I don’t get it either!
- You can’t really customize your stations. Other internet stations allow more flexibility. (I’ll talk about them later.)
- If you have stations that play similar artists, a song you may have thumbed down on one station will play on another. For example, my Prince station plays Bootylicious Beyonce and I give it a thumb down. Bootylicious plays on my Erykah Badu station, I will have to thumb it down again. It may not bother some people, but I find it irksome.
- Sometimes there is too much variety! There are times I wonder why they’re playing certain songs because they are in no way similar to the artist station I created.
All in all, Pandora is a good choice for finding music and listening to internet radio. Just play around with the site and see what you like about it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.