Pandora Radio Blog

March 16, 2013

From the Curators: Your Pandora Guide to St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is almost here and we welcome all our listeners of Irish descent (as well as those who become Irish for the day) to celebrate the holiday in Pandora style!

As many know, St. Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17th. It is named after St. Patrick (c. AD 385-461) and commemorates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. It has since gradually become more of a secular celebration of "Irishness" and Irish culture.

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For our Pandora listeners down under, St. Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in New Zealand and Australia. The Irish made a large impact on the social, political and educational systems of both countries, due to the large numbers of Irish people that immigrated to the colonies.

So whether your feasting with some Irish stew, indulging in green beer, attending a parade or just wearing green, we invite you to enjoy this year's St. Patrick's Day with stations curated by the "leprechaun curators" at Pandora:

Put on St. Patrick's Day along with your green to enjoy a mix of St. Patty's Day favorites from traditional Celtic folk music and Sea Shanties, to pub favorites and sing-a-longs. Artists include: Altan, The Dubliners, Loreena McKennitt and The Pogues.

On our Celtic station you'll hear the traditional and Celtic influenced music of Ireland and Scotland, including instrumental and vocal artists performing favorite Irish tunes. Artists include: Lunasa, Gaelic Storm, Celtic Woman and The Chieftains.

Get your green on with the boozy punk energy and Celtic style of Irish Pub Rock. Turn up Irish Pub Rock for rockin' rowdy sing-a-longs at your St. Patrick's Day party. Artists include: Flogging Molly, The Dropkick Murphys, The Blaggards and The Pogues.

Ireland is not only famous for traditional and folk music but Irish artists have played a major role in Rock and Pop. Celebrate St. Paddy's day with a variety of Irish pop artists from the 80s to today on Irish Pop. Artists include: The Script, U2, The Corrs, Snow Patrol, Damien Rice and The Cranberries.

What's your favorite St. Patty's Days song?

St. Patty's Day O' Fun Facts:

Longest running St. Patrick's Day celebration: Boston, Massachusetts, since 1737

The "greenest" celebrations: Some cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Others, including Chicago, dye major rivers green. Savannah also dyes its downtown city fountains green.

It wasn't always green? Believe it or not, the color of St. Patrick was not actually green, but blue! In the 19th century, however, green came to be used as a symbol for Ireland.

We at Pandora hope you enjoy our St. Patrick's Day stations this year. And, with that, I'll leave you with a traditional Irish toast: 
"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go."

-Ron O'Nenni (Curation Team)

Posted by at 8:11 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2013

From the Pandora Events Team: Getting the Discovery Den Ready At SXSW 2013

Austin's favorite music/tech conference, SXSW is once again upon us. And by upon us, we mean OH MY GAWD THE MUSIC STARTS TODAY!! Giddy up, y'all!

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Last year, Pandora debuted the Pandora Discovery Den at the famous Austin venue, Antone's. It was a huge hit, with tons of great artists and activities for all SXSW-goers to experience. But this year we are even more proud of what the Den has to offer.

The second annual Pandora Discovery Den will feature almost 50 artists over the course of four days on two stages, with three amazing sponsors bringing it all to life. This has been a labor of love for the Pandora Events team, who have been planning this awesome occasion ever since SXSW 2012 ended. Now, everything that has lived on their laptops up until now needs to be built and prepped so that the music can begin!

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What helps these event-planning masters through this tough prep time? Mostly music (good thing they work at Pandora!), dancing and, of course, fanny packs (hands-free chic!).

We want to give you a rare, behind-the-scenes-look at the crazy people who took on this enormous task - how they prepared for SXSW, their favorite stations to work to and the key fanny-pack items they can't leave the hotel without.

Name: Marta, Events Director
Pandora Stations to build to: Robyn Radio, Hip-Hop Road Trip Radio and Howard Jones Radio (my guilty pleasure station).
Discovery Den day I'm most excited for: Friday! It's an eclectic mix of artists - this will probably be the only time you'll see Third Eye Blind open for Talib Kweli.
What's in my Fanny-Pack? 100 SPF (anything below 80 is a waste for us Russians), Sunglasses, Pepto-Bismol (to calm my stomach after 4 days of BBQ) and Mifi (so I can have WiFi wherever SXSW takes me).

Name: Jenny, Senior Events Manager
Pandora Stations to Build To: Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest and the Rap & Hip-Hop Pre-Game genre station.
Discovery Den day I'm most excited for: Wednesday - Hip Hop/R&B; day. Really looking forward to seeing Casey Veggies and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
What's in my Fanny Pack? Chapstick, gum, bandaids, sunglasses, wristbands and cash for coffee and breakfast tacos.

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Name: Cameron, Senior Events Manager
Pandora Stations to Build To: Stevie Nicks, Toots and The Maytals, Toto, Kenny Loggins, Steel Pulse, Tupac, SWV, TLC and R.Kelly radio
Discovery Den day I'm most excited for: Thursday, which is Americana day. I'm a longtime fan of Billy Bragg and Emmylou Harris!
What's in my Fanny Pack? iPhone, iPhone charger, lip gloss, run-of-show list, VIP list, bamboo earrings - at least two pair.

Name: Colleen, Events Coordinator
Pandora Station to build to: Marta already stole Robyn Radio, but others I jam to are "Shoop" by Salt-N-Peppa, Hercules and Love Affair, and "Til The World Ends" by Britney Spears.
Discovery Den day I'm most excited for: Tuesday! I can't think of a better way to kick of the Discovery Den than with some music to make me move (I do have one or two embarrassingly fantastic moves). I'm most excited for Gold Fields, Guards, TOKiMONSTA and St. Lucia!
What's in my Fanny Pack? Portable Allen wrench set, VIP list, Sharpie, Sunscreen and all kinds of cubes to charge phones withArthur the Good Luck Dinosaur (my little secret!).

See you in Austin!

-Pandora Events Team

Posted by at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2013

Analyst Spotlight: Meet Darian Gray - Rapper, Drummer, Pianist & Pandora Music Analyst

Music analysis is the backbone of Pandora's recommendation engine, the Music Genome Project, which is the magical force that gives our millions of listeners radio stations that are personalized to their individual tastes. Our music analysts are essential to this process, working day-in and day-out to listen to and meticulously analyze every new song that is added to our catalog.

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Today, we are profiling Pandora veteran Darian Gray, who joined the company in 2006 shortly after the service launched on the web. Darian analyzes songs for Pandora in several of our Genomes, including R&B;, reggae, pop, gospel and hip-hop. These genres also match perfectly with his musical career outside of Pandora. As a professional drummer, piano player and rapper, Darian is almost always playing music, whether he is on tour with San Francisco-native Martin Luther, playing drums for R&B; classic Booker T. Jones or rapping in his band Dynamic.

With such a busy schedule, Darian considers it one of the perks of working at Pandora that he is able to bring his work wherever his music takes him - often analyzing songs at "any time of day or night" or even while he's on the road touring. Check out what Darian told me about his background, working at Pandora and touring:

When did you first develop a love for music?

Well, my mother is a singer and my father is a trumpet player. They told me that I first started playing the drums when I was two-years old on my kid-sized drum set. I remember playing music my whole childhood though, and trying to match every lick the drummer played - mostly to a Michael Jackson live album.

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How has being a Music Analyst changed how you listen to music?

It definitely makes me more critical. I analyze instead of just listening, especially if it's not something that is moving me emotionally...or spiritually. I find myself breaking down all the parts of the song. I guess I've always been like that but even more so now.

What is your best tour memory?

It has to be when I played in front of a million people in Brazil with Booker T. It was crazy. From the stage, it literally looked like a sea of people. Just like an ocean, there were different waves moving at different speeds and in different formations. I think it was about 1 a.m. too - all I knew was it was dark and I probably should have been sleeping!

What would you say is your inspiration?

Creating music that inspires me. And of course, my kids and my wife are a giant inspiration for me also.

- Laura (Communications)

Posted by at 5:15 PM | Comments (6)

A note to our listeners

This week we will begin communicating directly with a small number of our listeners as we introduce a 40-hour-per-month limit on free mobile listening.

Most of you reading this will never hit the limit. In fact, it will affect less than 4% of our total monthly active listeners. For perspective, the average listener spends approximately 20 hours listening to Pandora across all devices in any given month.

That said, limiting listening is a very unusual thing to do, and very contrary to our mission so we wanted to share a quick explanation. Pandora's per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years. After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption.

For listeners who do hit the limit, we have a variety of options available to keep the music you love flowing. Listen for free for as many hours as desired on desktop and laptop computers; pay $0.99 for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month, or subscribe to Pandora One for unlimited listening and no advertising.

In short, this is an effort to balance the reality of increasing royalty costs with our desire to maximize access to free listening on Pandora. We will be sure to alert any of our listeners that start getting close to the 40 hour limit. As always, your feedback is welcome.

Thanks for listening,

Tim (Founder)

Posted by at 2:00 PM | Comments (24)

February 21, 2013

From the Curators: Pandora's Guide To Music From the Big Screen

Music has always been the heart of the movie industry. Intimate parlor rooms, crazy fraternity parties, a grand coronation or a foggy road are all are enhanced by music that fits what the audience sees on screen and helps to tell the story. With the Oscars being presented on Sunday to wrap up this year's awards season, Pandora celebrates the music that makes our movies great with two genre stations: Film Scores and Movie Soundtracks. Let's take a look back at some of the memorable music that Hollywood has offered moviegoers over the years.

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The use of original film scores dates back to the early 20th century when silent movies started to emerge. Due to the loud film projectors (and perhaps audience members!), music was used to mask the distracting noises. In-house instrumentalists performed improvised music using cue sheets to help guide them through the film. As movies evolved to include sound, Hollywood began hiring composers to create original film scores typically performed by an ensemble of musicians like an orchestra, band, instrumental soloists, choir or vocalists.

On our Film Scores station, you'll hear a homage to Hollywood's classic movies up to the most recent blockbusters. This past year brought an array of film scores from films like Skyfall, Life of Pi, Anna Karenina, Lincoln and Argo. You will also hear works from renowned composers like:

Bernard Hermann - Psycho, Vertigo, North By Northwest and Taxi Driver

Elmer Bernstein - The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape and To Kill A Mockingbird

Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Mission and Cinema Paradiso

John Williams - Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park

Danny Elfman - Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride

Hans Zimmer - Crimson Tide, Gladiator, Inception and The Dark Knight

Thomas Newman - The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, American Beauty and Finding Nemo

James Horner - Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar and The Amazing Spiderman

Also on the Film Scores station are selections from popular movie trilogies like The Godfather, Indiana Jones, Back To The Future, The Lord of The Rings and The Pirates of the Caribbean.

Music in film helps convey emotion and carry the viewer through specific scenes that may otherwise be difficult to follow. Whether it is "As Time Goes By" or "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," specific songs can conjure up memories of the films they came from.

On the Movie Soundtracks genre station, you'll hear songs written for or made famous by their films. These include some of the most popular soundtracks over the past year like Twilight, The Hunger Games and Pitch Perfect, along with acclaimed songs like "Skyfall" from 007 Skyfall, "Suddenly" from Les Miserables, "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from Ted, "Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi and "Before My Time" from Chasing Ice. We also included some of our film favorites like "Superfly," "Stayin' Alive" and "My Heart Will Go On" on the station. You'll also hear tunes from movie musicals like The Sound of Music, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Moulin Rogue and Dreamgirls as well as popular Disney films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Monsters, Inc.

Scores and soundtracks help impact the emotional intensity of a film, from enhancing drama to manipulating the sentiments and feelings of the viewer. What movie scores or soundtracks have resonated the most with you?

-Michelle S (Curation Team)

Posted by at 9:06 AM | Comments (0)