Effraeti's RP

One Woman, Two Timelines, Two Destinies.

The Fine Art of Creating and Managing a Pandora Station

Pandora is a wonderful tool for the music lover, especially the music lover who seeks this passion while operating various computers and handheld devices – at home, at work, and out and about.

I was introduced to Pandora by Laz, and promptly became most enamored with it.  In fact, that first month, it took me only three of the four weeks to use up my allotted free music time.  :(

After chuckling at me for a bit, Laz gave me the greatest present EVER: a year subscription to Pandora.

Let me say, it is very well used.  I even reactivated it myself in recent months, when my subscription came up for renewal.  I listen at home (ask my fellow raiders!), at work (ask anyone who has worked with me over the past 10 years or so), and even sometimes while I sleep.

I have about a dozen stations I listen to pretty regularly, most consisting of some form or another of Techno.  But I also have a rap station, a rock/alternative station, a Celtic station, an 80′s station, and a few “sappy romantic” stations for different time periods of music.

My newest station came about earlier today, inspired by an artist Laz shared with me this morning…

Violin Dubstep!

I created this as a brand new Lindsey Stirling station, especially after Laz also shared…

OMG Zelda!  (In fact, for any fans of the Zelda games looking for a blast from their gaming past, Zreo is a great website where you can listen to all the music reorchestrated.)

And so it happens that I have this wonderful new station that I am oh-so carefully selecting songs to “Thumbs Up” and alternately those I am leaving alone or even going so far as to “Thumbs Down.”

It made me think about the care and patience that is sometimes required to create and manage a Pandora station.

What do I mean by this?

Well, Pandora has an advanced system that operates in the background to go song by song and suggest more songs based on your tastes.  It is great for finding new artists I never would have thought to listen to otherwise.

But it also means that Pandora can be very temperamental and very ADD.

Sometimes, a “Thumbs Up” to one song skews my entire station in an unwanted direction.

I have pretty eclectic music taste, even though 95% of the time I am listening to Techno.  I like rap and R&B, I like classical and New Age, I like blues, I like rock and metal and alternative, I like 70′s and 80′s and 90′s music, and even hippy and Motown music (I am a Michigander, so gotta love the local stuff)!  The only type of music I do not listen to on my own is Country.  Nothing against it or those who listen to it, but it is just not for me.

My eclectic musical tastes plus my very specific music moods mean that eventually I “Thumbs Up” the wrong song on the wrong station.  Hey!  I cannot help that I hear a song I like and I am like “Oh, yah!”  But then I spend a half hour grumbling while “fixing” my 80′s station that is now playing a bunch of alternative music.  Nonono!

Heck, I am even specific about my Techno!  I have my Above and Beyond station which plays totally different music than my Royksopp station or my Morcheeba station or my Enigma station.  <–  Working as intended.

They all evoke or elevate a specific mood for me, therefore, I keep them separate.

And see?  Already I am seeing a skewing trend in my Lindsey Stirling station, which I will have to address… later.  (Okie, okie, or while writing this!  BRB!)  It is descending much too far into Dubstep, which I like a lot, but this station was intended for more of a classical meets modern feel.  And I already have a Dubstep station.  lol

It is however developing into what I plan to make a great gaming station – something for leveling and questing and dungeoning.  In fact, some Skyrim (some pieces done by Lindsey Stirling) and other gaming soundtracks are creeping in slowly, and those need to be marked preferably.

I think where I went wrong was giving “Thumbs Up” to a few too many Dubstep songs and tracks from the Tron Legacy soundtrack that did not also include the classic instruments that first attracted me to this.

Forgive me as descend into musical technicalities.

But as an aside, I totally need to start a Tron Legacy station.  That would probably seed a great Daft Punk/Dubstep station.  (Okie, okie, I distracted myself with that too.)

This leads me to the next quirk of Pandora – choosing seed artists and songs.

Over the past year and a half or so I have spent working with Pandora and my stations, I have discovered some seeds work better than others.  I have realized that to get my stations setup for my tests and moods, being as specific as possible works best.

Moby happens to be my favorite artist, and is very diverse musically.  I therefore discovered he is a HORRIBLE seed for a Pandora station.  If you personally are looking for a more all-encompassing station, Moby would likely work great.  But that station went in every musical direction possible – Motown, Techno, Rock, you name it.  Now, when I am in a Moby mood, I instead make a playlist of all my Moby CDs and let it go.  It is much easier on me.  :)

On the flipside, Royksopp is fairly fringe, and it started a great station that includes artists that rarely if ever pop up on my other Techno stations – Zero 7, Hooverphonic, Thievery Corporation, Supreme Beings of Leisure, Florence and the Machine, Air, Groove Armada, and Bitter:Sweet among others.

Even better is seeding a station with a specific song.  I made several unsuccessful attempts on creating an 80′s love music station.  Finally, I used one of my favorite 80′s songs from one of my all-time favorite movies…

All in all, Pandora is a great way to expand your musical horizons, or even just enjoy your current musical tastes in a convenient manner.

And I hope the music provided is enjoyable.  It is not often I allow myself to openly wax poetic on my tastes in any great detail.  :)

~ Effy

EDIT: Fixed the first two videos (Lindsey Stirling) as they were not showing up at all.

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9 Comments

  1. lazheward

    I really do like Lindsey Sterling. She came up as a random on one of my channels. Usually my Pandora is pretty well groomed, but a new title slipped in and I immediately stopped working and listened in. Her passion for her violin and her enjoyment of dance mixed into different genres of music just make you feel like the world is out there waiting for you. You want to turn up the radio, jump in the car, and go find a sunset from some lofty edifice that you just climbed.

    • Let’s go! ;)

      I really cannot express what a great artist she is. Big big brownie points for pointing her out this morning! :D

      ~ Effy

  2. *stars article in Google Reader* I’m always looking for new music to listen to; and I had never thought about how Pandora would not read my mind based on how I thumbs up stations. I’m going to have to start working more carefully on grooming my lists now.

    Thanks for this article – and while at one time, I was with you on the country, I discovered something kinda interesting about it. If you really like, say, ’80s music, take a look at what was being played around the turn of the new century. You’ll find a striking number of similarities. I really like listening to Trick Pony and the Eurythmics in the same playlist (at home, I would never seed Pandora that way!)

    In general, Country seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-30 years behind rock in terms of general sounds.

    • Hmm, that is a most fascinating observation, and I will have to look more into this. Thanks! :)

      Yah, I have come to discover Pandora is most sneaky in its selection. My Moby station is the best example… He has songs that are rock-like, R&B-like, clubbing, trance, dance, ambient techno, and some soul music based completely around the incredibly powerful voice of the female singer that tours with him – so you can only imagine wide breadth of songs and artists suggested by Pandora through this. Every once and a while, I will listen to it, and be amazed by some of the music. But usually I finish the session with a musically confused mood. :)

      ~ Effy

  3. JD Kenada

    What was the over/under on my response time to this? Just curious. ;)

    I’ve never even heard of Pandora, and while it intrigues me, I listen to a variety of stations online and offline, and any time I hear a track I like I write it down and make a point of acquiring it. My days as a DJ and working in radio opened me to a lot of sounds that I never would have had the chance to hear…plus radio stations here have to play a little over one-third Canadian content. This says nothing of the people I surround myself with who introduce me to items I would never otherwise get the chance to hear, via their tastes. I mean, I have a mixed CD that starts with Enya and ends with Motorhead. That covers a pretty large spectrum.

    Where I’m going with this long ramble is that while Pandora sounds interesting, I’m the kind of person to build my own playlists (or station I suppose) based on the vast music library I have at my disposal. It helps because I’ll get into a groove or more specifically a mood where I know exactly what I want to hear. At any moment I can go “this is the song I need to listen to right now” and pull it up. I find in some cases, I have a better selection than online sites (again, I’ve never been to Pandora to say in this case).

    I also get where just certain songs grab me. As of late it’s been Train “Drive By” and this one by Rise Against:

    Tonight though, I just really feel like hearing some Toby Keith at work:

    • Say what? I know it made me approve your comment, Mr. Links. ;)

      Oh crap, you dern Canadians. I did not even stop to think that Pandora is blocked in Canada – probably for the exact reason you stated, the required 1/3 Canadian content thing. :(

      Pandora works perfectly for me while raiding and working, because it goes without me having to really think about it. I build the stations as I have time (usually while “fixing” them after getting particularly “Thumbs Up” happy during the aforementioned work and raids lol), and listen to them when I do not. When I am adamant about “OMG, I must listen to song X” that is what I use YouTube for. :)

      ~ Effy

      • JD Kenada

        Mr. Links was intending to be Mr. Embedded Video. Stupid coding.

        Honestly, Pandora not working in Canada never even dawned on me. I’ve simply never checked it out. Grooveshark is handy for making playlists and I used to LOVE Mixwit but that got the copyright hammer on it, hard.

  4. OMG, no one told me that the Lindsey Stirling videos were not working! >< All Fixed Now!

    ~ Effy

    • JD Kenada

      The videos I’ve clicked on (except Tetris) all say embedding disabled.

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