Pandora Leverages Friends Lists to Become the Best Social Streaming Music Site Around

pandora[1] To find inspiration for Social Times ongoing Imagine series, I only ever have to ask myself “what do I want to be doing now and why aren’t I?”  If the answer involves technology, which it often does for a person like me, I find my inspiration.  This week, the answer to that question was that I wanted to be able to have “a site that automatically starts playing some of my favorite tunes based on what it’s learned about my favorite music… and also integrate what my friends like into my playlist”.  I was going to write a post imagining the service, but when I checked up on Pandora, I realized they’re already doing it!

Pandora is an incredible music service that focuses on the concept of Music DNA to predict what you like.  So if I listen and say I like “12:51” by The Strokes, it looks at the music DNA of the song to see what I like.  It will know that I like songs with higher tempos, clean guitars, raspy vocals and straight ahead percussion.  With such a powerful algorithm used across hundreds of my “likes” and “dislikes”, Pandora begins to learn my music DNA, and starts predicting songs that really do match what I like.

Pandora does a lot of things right, and reminds me of Google in a sense: as they collect heaps of data, they are making sure not to overcomplicate their simple user interface.  As a user, I just have to type in an artist or song I like and away the service goes.  Now, when I used to use it, I could make radio stations but it was unintuitive to find and add my friends, and listen to their stations.

They’ve updated the service so that it’s quite easy to ‘quick add’ friends using their email addresses now, and you get to see all kinds of information about their music tastes and their ‘music DNA’.  I’m sure at some point there will be some sort of branding of each person’s music DNA, and I look forward to that day as well, as the service would be a lot of fun if there was the ability to sift through their massive store of musical data and discuss it with friends.

Check out our look at the Pandora CTO discussing how mobile transformed their business as well.

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