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Pandora Online Radio

An automated music recommendation and Internet radio service created by the Music Genome Project.

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Ditch FM radio - listen to a station that plays only what you like.

  • Feb 3, 2009
  • by

UPDATE: 1/25/11

Since writing this review, I've upgraded my membership at Pandora to the paid subscription. And so, I'm  going to put in some thoughts on how that's been after using it now for about a month. If you're looking for thoughts on Pandora a free service, read towards the bottom, where you'll find my original review. 

Pandora One is $36/year and offers some perks as a paid members. To sum it all up: no ads, unlimited skipping, desktop app, changeable themes. Those are your biggest buys from big  to small.  I'll go through each of them, and how life has been since I dropped the $36. 

No Ads: I love this. I haven't heard an ad for Living Social, the Ford Fiesta or some online college book store that I could care less about. The ads on Pandora never applied to me, and I'm glad I got rid of them.  Listening to Pandora is like a sigh of relief in the car, when I want to drive home or to work with ZERO interruptions. This is even MORE perfect for parties and get togethers, no more awkward 30 second clips of mood stopping ads that could kill the atmosphere. This is the biggest advantage of the upgrade. You'll also notice that the music plays longer before asking if you're still there. I believe it'll now play up to 5 hours before prompting you to click on something. 

Unlimited Skips: You have the opportunity now to skip as many as you like all day, but you still have to follow the rule of skipping a maximum of 6 times in an hour. Still, this comes in pretty handy as you are pretty much guaranteed the ability to skip past songs. So if you listen in the morning, on the way to work,  at the gym or in the evening at home - you'll be able to skip, skip, skip! How better can radio get? 

Desktop App: Nothing too fancy, but one less browser tab to have open. With the desktop app, you get Pandora placed into your system tray, where you have controls. And a subtle popup in the top right corner of the screen telling you what new song is beginning to play.  The app is pretty minimal, but it's a nice soft touch to being part of the paid subscription. You also get to change the themes on the browser.

Conclusion: For $36, it's not bad if you plan to use it alot. Now, I use Pandora everywhere.  Car, work. Everything. Highly recommend. 

Although I've been a Pandora user now for two years, I was moved to write a review on it last night when I realized just how good it has been to me.  Pandora is a personal music jukebox that plays songs based on your preferences along with your favorite artists and genres.  If you enjoy a particular artist, you can search for them on Pandora, and begin listening to a station that is tailored to not only playing songs from that particular artist but best of all, songs from other artists that are similar to the one you've chosen.  This was the start to my curious exploration of new and unheard of artists that I would have never listened to if not for the innovative sense of Pandora's match making capability.

The GoodPandora is extremely easy to use.  You simply log on, choose your station and it begins to play songs.  Plus, the quality of music coming out from Pandora's interface is great.  Stations are played on streaming media, but sound clear as if the song is on your hard drive.  If you hear a song that you don't like, you can rate it "thumbs down" – and the database will remember not to play it again on that particular station.  Of course, if you like it, you can rate the song a "thumbs up," and Pandora will increase its frequency of play as you continue to listen in the future. With this simple rating system, you can build out a station that will eventually play music that you love – and nothing else.  Along with the rating system, you can add more than one artist and genre to a station, allowing you to listen to more than one type of music at a time, without changing channels like you would on a radio.

The Bad – Pandora pays for each song it plays on its stations that users create and listen to.  As a result, skipping a song on a station becomes limited after a certain number of times you do so.  Although you can freely skip songs once you rate them a "thumbs down," at times it becomes difficult if you don't want to entirely ban the song from the station, but aren't necessarily in the mood to hear it either.  Also, Pandora stops playing after about 30 or 40 minutes after signing on and choosing a station, at which point requires you to press play again to assure them that somebody is actually listening to the music that is being played.  This could be inconvenient especially if you use Pandora to play music at gatherings or parties, which I've done in the past.  Lastly, if you're a curious listener like me – Pandora brings great opportunities for discoveries and new favorites.  But as you keep rating what you like and don't like when listening to your stations, I've noticed that the system eventually narrows your exposure to new music artists and songs to the kind of music that you already listen to.  And as much as it is to have a station playing only the music you like, I started my Pandora experience to find stations that would play music that I possibly would like.  This is important to keep in mind when forming your "perfect" stations, but I guess it's a trade off.

I've also heard people tell me that Pandora still has a short list of agreements with record labels, producers and artists to play their music, resulting in noticing songs being looped and replayed over and over again, and an overall variety which is limited to only music acknowledged by mainstream media.

Overall – As a young website that remains to keep its service and features free, I highly enjoy using Pandora.  I plug my computer into speakers and play music at parties and dinners, listen to consistently soothing music when I study and read, and count on using it when I want to listen to a certain genre or artist.  Because it saves profiles through user signups, I can find my stations anywhere I go, without carrying my iPod or CDs.  Pandora truly appeals to me the most when I want that "radio" experience – listening to songs without a playlist, without knowing what's about to played next.  (I find myself listening with a bit of anxiety when listening to an album or playlist on my iPod because I always know what is going to be played, and when the music will eventually expire.)

Although there are some things about Pandora that may keep it from being perfect, I consider it worth a listen at if you haven't tried it already. Check it out! I'm sure you'll find something you like to hear! 

Pandora Screenshot List of your personal radio stations The Pandora rating system

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October 05, 2010
It might be because I paid the $36 annual fee, but my Pandora will play without intervention for hours. There is also another unexpected benefit. When you hear a song or an artist you hadn't heard before you click on the "Up" arrow and it will explain why the song was added to your queue. Great review.
September 25, 2010
Well-written review. I enjoy Pandora, and I tend to have a large number of stations so that I can have some that only play the "perfect" songs and others where I do little to narrow the selections so that I'll get more variety. Also, I've added bands to my station list "Artist Seeds" (Options->Edit station details) to get more variety. I think the "add variety" (next to "options" button under the station) does the same thing. They suggest only adding one or two new bands at a time, though. The downside for me is that I have a satellite internet connection. I can't listen for more than 30-60 minutes on my normal usage days without going over my download limit.
February 24, 2010
The main use I have for Pandora is when I'm at work and don't want to listen to the same old on the iPod. It does take some stones (or open-mindedness, really) to just listen to everything it throws at you in some cases...
October 24, 2009
Pandora Rocks! I've been using it for years too. Let's all hope it can keep remaining true to it's roots by continuing to be "commercial free"... unlike those "slackers" at Slacker.com, lol!
August 26, 2009
Excellent review!
July 15, 2009
Great review - couldn't agree more! I love Pandora.
May 25, 2009
I would agree pandora has is a great personal radio player as you described it, but i have hesitations with it when trying to find music which is not as well known as others, particularly: electronica, trance, electro, indie rock, and many more! I think it has tackled the well known but needs to focus on the diamonds in the rough :)
April 28, 2009
For any Mac Users out there, be sure to check out Pandora Jam. Works like a stand-alone Pandora app. It also allows you to save songs into iTunes, although I'm not sure of how legal that is.
March 24, 2009
I love Pandora -- my only complaint is and even though I have it on Mix mode I tend to hear the same stuff over and over again. But that's partially my fault since I get smitten to my favorite stations. I don't want to completely thumbs down a song I'm tired of, but Pandora lets you stop playing that particular song for a short time period. But I have found so many amazing bands through Pandora.
March 23, 2009
LOL....I am listening to it for the first time and LOVE the underground hip-hop station. I completely agree with you on the bad but, would also add that you can't go back to the previous song on the station.
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About the reviewer
Angelo Ignacio ()
Ranked #40
I'm a Filipino-American living life as a post undergrad making a start here in beautiful Los Angeles. I love the weather and diversity here and enjoy everything this city has to offer. I'm excited to … more
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Pandora is an automatic music recommendation and Internet radio service created by the Music Genome Project. People enter a song or artist and the service plays a list of songs that are similar. Pandora refines the personalized radio station with the person's thumbs-up/thumbs-down feedback on each song. Over 400 different musical attributes are considered when selecting the next song.

People can buy songs they hear from Amazon MP3, Amazon.com, or the iTunes Store.

The Pandora media player plays through a web browser and on portable devices such as iPhone. The service is supported through advertising and subscriptions.

Pandora radio is the personalized internet radio service that helps you find new music based on your old and current favorites. Create custom web radio stations, listen free.
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