Pandora is a music and podcast delivering platform which is made to ensure each user gets a personalized playlist. To provide a personalized service to its users, Pandora was launched in 2005 after 30 experts in music spent five years working and perfecting the best algorithm that would achieve the objective of this service.
Pandora, previously available in Australia and New Zealand, is now only available in the US. You can download the Pandora app from the Apple store or the Google Play store. You can listen to your favorite songs from your mobile, laptop, media streamers, at home, on smart TVs, smart speakers, on the car, from blue ray player and so much more.
How does Pandora work?
Pandora’s music streaming service is powered by and is a proprietary of the Music Genome Project. It is also a subsidiary of Sirius SM Holdings Inc.
As Pandora works with the Music genome project, while choosing music, Pandora breaks down the musical qualities of songs. This breakdown is done from five different parent genres or genomes along with hundreds of subgroups called genes. Then it analyzes the musical components of these songs across various genres and genes. Upon analyzing the songs, it defines certain characteristics of each song within the genre.
These genomes or genes of the song also have what is called the DNA of the song. While using Pandora, you can look up the DNA of a song at any time by browsing through the screen and selecting a menu indicated by three horizontal dots. You need to do this while a song is playing so you can know the DNA of that particular song. After pressing the horizontal button, select “why this song”. Once you click on this button, you will learn what genes are tagged with the song, the attributes that Pandora has assigned to the songs, and explanations of why Pandora is recommending this song to you. Here, you will also be able to learn about the artists that you like and more.
Well, the 30 experts on music weren’t messing around for 5 years!
Real people perform the most of process to provide personalized playlist. Pandora has a team of trained musicologists whose work is listening to music from all the different genres for decades.
These musicologists study, analyze and collect music after understanding new artists, new releases and thoroughly collecting details from every musical track. These professionals analyze different components of a song including the lyrics, composition, rhythm, harmony, melody, form, and more. The analysis is so intricate that about 20-30 minutes is spent for one song that is about four minutes long.
Here is how Pandora ensures a personalized experience for you:
Pandora ensures you get the most individualized radio station based on the type of songs you like or the artist you like. Let’s look at this step by step:
- Takes a song or an artist as a seed song or a seed artist
- Then use that to grow your station based on the qualities of the song and artist
- These seed songs will look for other music with similar qualities. (These qualities are also called “music genome”)
This makes sure that you get the perfect song for your mood as your seed song can also change and alter based on your mood. The process of recommending music and creating playlists is controlled by mathematical algorithms.
Here are some ways Pandora characterizes the songs:
- Folk influences, disco influences, Subtle use of vocal harmony, Mellow rock
- Minor key tonality, catchy hooks, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
- Female vocals, intricate melodic phrasing, minor-key tonality
- Acoustic rock instrumentation, acoustic rhythm piano, extensive vamping
These music genomes are very versatile as you can see, it ranges from “female vocals” to “folk” to “heavy drums” or anything else from music that makes it stand out which can link it to similar songs.
Pandora is also thinking of developing an algorithm for specialized compositions from Latin and classical music so people can have a broader range of options while browsing through music. These unique and incredibly detailed attributes really help the user get the music that would really fit their current mood.
Pandora doesn’t just recommend you music, it also allows you to customize your own station!
Pandora is very much like a radio in a way where you get to choose the kind of song you want to listen to but you can’t really choose what the specific song will be. While using Pandora, you can create your own radio station.
The interesting thing about Pandora station is that it will bring you similar songs like the ones you chose but you might not hear the same song again and again. In your own station, you will be able to experience music based on their characteristics and mood like “holiday radio” or “Italian cooking music” or “80s pop hits”. Some stations will also have the name of an artist like “Elton John radio” but in these stations, you won’t just hear the songs of the artist but you will also hear other artists with similar music styles.
While using the app, you are only allowed to skip a limited number of songs each day while using the free version. We will get into more about other paid services like Pandora Premium, Pandora family, and Pandora plus later.
The 6 different modes that you can switch
- My station: Listen to the station that you know
- Crowd Favs: Listen to the song with the most thumb ups from other listeners
- Deep cuts: Listen to less familiar songs from the station artist
- Discovery: Listen to artists that you don’t usually hear, discover new artists
- Newly released: Listen to the newest music
- Artists only: Listen to songs from a particular station artist
You cannot create a playlist of specific songs and titles. The station page will give you a snapshot of the seed song or artist that will be used to create the playlist.
Thumbs up the songs you like and thumbs down for the ones you don’t prefer. You also have the option to “never play” a certain song if you really dislike it. Such feedback helps to improve the music suggesting algorithm.
Pandora’s Business Model
Pandora’s business model is quite impressive as it is very focused on providing the audience what they promise to provide. The initial process is the Music genome project. Through this, they have a broad range of songs and podcasts to provide. To ensure a personalized playlist, Pandora then relies upon individual engagement.
It collects the data by analyzing the thumbs up, thumbs down, songs skipped, and more. This collection of feedback is also done by what is called the Thumbprint Radio.
Thumbprint Radio was launched in 2015 and, as the name sounds, is a collection of music based completely on the songs you have given a thumbs up to. This radio works based on your likes as Pandora is constantly analyzing your likes and dislikes by the feedback it gets from you.
This has over 370 million hours of listening to it. With music from over 150,000 artists, Thumbprint Radio is also called the “most popular radio station in the world”. An amazing fact about this feature is that it will also add a few extra songs that you are likely to like hence exposing you to more songs that are right up your alley.
So far Pandora has been able to create 65+ billion thumbs up in total and users have created more than 9 billion stations. Upon collecting feedback based on individual engagement, Pandora then focuses on advertising by the display, audio, video ads, local as well as national ads, and more. Then it bases its improvement on the basis of collective feedback from the users.
Talking about Pandora and Advertising, Pandora is not just one of the largest music providers in the US, but it is also one of the leading digital audio advertising platforms.
Ads in Pandora
Since this app is largely dependent on ads, Pandora doesn’t just focus on personalized music. They have also spent years and years collecting data and figuring out the preferences of the audience to determine what kind of ads are most likely to engage the audience.
Pandora also has a system for political ad targeting and it uses this system for presidential and congressional campaigns. The interesting thing about this system is that, although Pandora doesn’t look at ad users’ individual political attitudes or their attitude towards different political issues, the system does run ads for different candidates based on the stations and artists you tend to like. And because Pandora asks for your ZIP code when you register, they can further tailor political ads to specific districts.
- While using this application, you don’t have to spend hours browsing through music just to find something that you can connect to at the moment
- Gives you a chance to spend as much time as you want to personalize your customized station so you can have your favorite tunes anytime you want.
- You can let Pandora know what music you don’t like by simply choosing the thumbs down button. Not only this but you will also be able to shelve some songs that you get tired of hearing.
- Find music according to your mood.
- Share your favorite stations with your friends or family by gifting them or you can also have them gift you their station.
- Easy to discover new music that fits your current taste as you will get many other similar songs
- Accessible from many devices. Listen at your comfort and device of your choice.
- Play the lyrics along with the music. So sing along even if you forget the lyrics.
- Voice mode that lets you search, play, adjust the volume, thumbs up the music, and more using voice command.