The other week I discovered this new free internet radio service called Pandora. You create an account with them and then enter the names of a few songs or bands that you like, and it plays those songs/bands as well as other music that sounds similar to it.
So Pandora is similar to Yahoo’s Launchcast service, except where Launchcast is designed to be compatible with as few systems as possible, Pandora is based on a platform-independent technology (Flash), so I can actually use it under Linux. And it also doesn’t just pick "similar" music based on a list of genres that someone decided should apply to your songs/bands; instead, they’ve actually done some much more low-level research into the acoustics of the music itself:
Quoting The Music Genome Project:
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it’s about what each individual song sounds like.
Over the past 5 years, we’ve carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time.
The first band that I put into Pandora was I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business. If I had written this post a few weeks ago, I could have told you what the first few similar bands they played were, but alas, I have forgotten. I do remember, though, that I was impressed with how many of them were other bands that I already knew and liked.
What’s also cool is that within the first week, Pandora got me hooked on two new bands that I really like now: June and Copeland. I had never heard of June before, but a few people over the past couple years have mentioned Copeland to me, and I just never got around to looking into them. The songs that Pandora has played have been from their 2005 album "In Motion," which I just bought the other day and I really love. The June songs are from their 2005 album "If You Speak Any Faster," which I’m sure I’ll be getting soon, too.
And speaking of music that you should go check out, Kim and I went to see Mae last night at Mr. Small’s Theatre here in Pittsburgh. We both love this band, and we thought the show was really good. Actually, now that I think about it, the last time I saw a Mae show was the first time I had ever heard of them: they were one of the opening acts (along with Riding Bikes) at an Elliott show at the Church in Philly. And the guy I went to that show with was the first person who told me to check out Copeland.
I won’t go into too much detail about the Mae show last night because it looks like Kim is on the case. I’ll just mention that the vocalist seems like a really nice and cool guy, from what you can tell by just looking at someone while they’re singing. He was quite the sweaty beast though, because it was really warm in the place and he had a long-sleeved shirt on. I realize that there’s really no benefit to you, loyal reader, in my mentioning that last bit; it’s just that I love to say "sweaty beast" whenever the opportunity arises.