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Pandora: A music app that serves up a personalized radio station

Posted by Daniel Kline  March 4, 2013 01:18 PM

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By Daniel B. Kline Staff

PandoraReviewing: Pandora
By: Pandora
Available on: iPhone, Android
Price: Free (paid version available without ads for $3.99 a month)
Should you get it? Yes


Pandora knows my musical tastes better than I do.

The app/website works off a simple premise: Tell it an artist or two whose songs you like, and Pandora feeds you music it thinks you will enjoy. Give a song a "thumbs up," and Pandora serves you more like it. Give a "thumbs down," and not only does the song stop playing, but Pandora knows to steer its choices away from that type of music.

I signed up for Pandora after downloading the free app in the iTunes store on an iPhone 4S. After a simple registration, I built a "radio station" by inputting a few bands I liked, starting with Buffalo Tom, The Lemonheads, The Replacements, and John Hiatt. Pandora used that info to start serving me songs from those artists and others its extensive database thought I would like.

Even the initial mix was pretty good, delivering me cuts from my selected artists along with some songs I had never heard, but liked. Yes, I gave the thumbs down when there was a little too much Weezer and my selection of Hiatt led to a bit too much country for my taste, but the choices were 80% accurate, and Pandora learned my tastes very quickly.

Since I had a free, not paid, account, Pandora served an audio ad every six songs or so and the app had plenty of graphic-based ads that got in the way when I glanced down while driving to see what song was playing. Non-paying customers also have a limit on how many songs they can skip in an hour. (A Pandora subscription offers an ad-free experience for $3.99 a month.)

Pandora has almost no learning curve. It's a very simple app to use, and while I appreciate that it gave me songs by my favorite artists, I also enjoyed that the app exposed me to bands and artists I was unfamiliar with whose work I now plan to explore further. This piece actually elevates Pandora above other music services as it does not merely play a mix of stuff I already like; it broadens my musical horizons in a way that rarely happens to a 39-year-old guy who never listens to music radio (and who wouldn't like much of what gets played anyway).

About Apptitude Test blogger Kathryn Cartini

Born to challenge the "status quo," with three older brothers Kathryn's first story was probably a tattle, a skill she managed to turn into a career in broadcasting. Now as a communications specialist and CEO of Peacock Media, Kathryn continues #SharingStories that grow businesses and inspire others to follow their hearts in work and life, herself included. More »

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