Listen to music while you work?

by Peter Crocker

If you listen to music while you work and you have a broadband connection (preferably unlimited), read on. I’m sure plenty of you are way ahead of me, but this is easily the best thing I’ve found on the net in the last year or so.

Most of the time I’ll listen to music as I’m working. But because commercial stations are full of distracting talk and advertising, I tend to listen to music from my own collection. But listening to the same music library all day means my music collection quickly becomes a little tired.

Then six months or so ago I stumbled across a new website called Pandora and I have hardly spent a day off it since. If you’re way ahead of me and already an addicted user then you’ll know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, I’ll gladly share the joy.

According to their website (and by the way, neither Flying Solo or I have any affiliation with them at all), Pandora is all about helping people find new music they’ll love.

It started with a thing called the Music Genome Project where music analysts listened to individual songs and categorised them by over 400 details – melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics etc – that gave each song its particular type of sound. Apparently they’ve been doing it for six years and the result is a massive database of songs analysed.

It all sounds a little complex, but the result is awesomely simple and you can hear it right now.

Here’s how it works.
Go to Pandora.com and type in one of your favourite songs or artists. Most of the ones I tried seemed to be there. Then a pure music “radio station” will start playing songs with similar attributes to the song or artist you selected.

The system scans all its analysed music – new, old, well known and completely obscure – to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. You can make up as many different stations as you like. It’s music that all sounds a bit the same, and that’s the great thing about it!

For example, I like listening to acoustic/folky guitar music so I entered in Jack Johnson. The result is a radio station that plays a sensational mix of cruisy music of that genre. They do play a bit of Jack Johnson, but mostly they play other artists that sound like him – some I already know, others I’ve never heard of before.

I’m sorry if this all sounds like an advertorial, but I really have become addicted to Pandora. If you like finding new music just give it a try and after 20 seconds you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

One word of warning…
It is addictive and streaming music takes up a bit of bandwidth so make sure you keep track of your limits or get yourself onto an unlimited connection.

My current favourite stations are Bernard Fanning Radio, The Waifs Radio and Paul Kelly Radio.

I’d love to hear what you think of it, and what stations are good.

Note: Sadly, copyright laws have made Pandora unavailable for Australian listeners. However we’ve found www.last.fm and it appears to be a pretty good substitute.

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