I am officially the last person in my nearby extended family to sign up for Pandora Radio. Surprisingly the first people to sign up were my parents who are both over 65 now. They bought three Sonos wireless speaker systems which all come with a Pandora radio subscription and they can control it with their iPads.
One speaker system lives upstairs, and two downstairs, one in the kitchen and one in the dining room which we now experience at dinner time as a surprise to ourselves. My parents have long been people who love to listen to music and Pandora is fantastic for them because of how it works.
The next person to sign up was The Other Half, who has been deeply enjoying the 80s and 90s alternative stations, plus creating his own stations. I’ve enjoyed the stations from time to time in the car and around the house but it was still not enough to convince me to sign up, because I usually like to be the one in control and play the specific song I want to hear.
But then one day The Other Half played his 80s alternative station and the song “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears got stuck in my head for 5 days in a row. I tried to flush it out of there, truly I did, but every morning I would wake up and it would be playing in my head. It reminded me how much I love Tears for Fears and I thought I would create a TFF station for myself.
How Does Pandora Work?
Pandora uses the Music Genome Project to analyse music and group like songs together. You can create a radio station based on a specific song, or based on one artist.
When you create your station, you may find it does not play the song or artist you have chosen right away. It will not always play songs by the artist you picked – it plays similar music. This can be a great way to find new artists with music that is similar to the artist you like. It can also be deeply annoying at times – if you put in Take That, you’ll get a lot of boyband music, some of which you might love, some you might not love.
As you listen to music you can give the track a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Clicking “thumbs-up” tells Pandora “you like this track” and helps to bring in more tracks like it to your station. Clicking “thumbs down” tells Pandora not to play this track on that particular station.
If you thumbs down, it will skip the track and play another track – though you get a limited number of skips each hour. Once you have hit your hourly limit of skips, it apologises for continuing to play the song and lets you know once the song is finished you will never hear it again on that station. But be aware, if you switch stations you might hear that track again.
It Turns Out –
I really LOVE not being the one in control. Sometimes the biggest thing that stops me from playing music is having to choose what to play. I do still have a small element of control with the thumbs down button. I deeply appreciate that this is not a commercial station where some random radio person is choosing what music I will listen to, plus bombarding me with ads as a constant surprise.
Finding Music I Love But Forgot About – I loved music when I was a kid. Some of the songs I really loved I’d completely forgotten but Pandora has helped me find and enjoy them again.
Musical Memories – when I was a kid, I had “In A Big Country” as a single record, and I used to play it over and over and over again. One day the Split Enz channel played that song to me, and those memories returned to me..
Thumbs Up History – You can see which songs you have given the thumbs up to – see mine here. You can also see the thumb history, radio stations, and activity of the people you are following.
Thumbs Down History – Giving the thumbs down usually isn’t anything personal against the songs or artists, it might be that you are trying to build a specific kind of station and that specific song does not fit in. You can view the thumbs up and thumbs down history for each station by clicking on options under the station name, then station details..
Add Variety – Want a station with heavy metal and 80’s pop? Want Sinatra and David Bowie combined together on a station? Want to experiment and create something unique? You have a lot of options with the add variety option.
Data Hungry – Pandora can really chew up your data allowance. I’d recommend only using it at home on your wifi. On the plus side to this downside, you will find more music you love and can add to your portable or mobile phone playlist.
Out Of Service Area – When you have no wifi or internet connection, the music dies. That is very sad and slightly irritating at times.
Mobile Irritations – If using Pandora on my mobile, I find I am continually having to unlock the phone to give my thumbs up or down.
Live Music & Acoustic Versions – While you might love a song in the original recorded format, you may not love it as a live version. I still have not worked out if clicking thumbs down to a live song removes the not live version from your station.
Terribly Annoying Ads – There was an ad with someone singing off key, I wanted to throw my phone across the room. Luckily the ads do not seem to play very often for me anymore and it isn’t because I upgraded my account, either.
No Family Plan – With most things these days there is a family plan option so you can have more than one person using a service. As yet there is no such family plan on Pandora. While I have read you can use one account on two devices at once, I prefer to have my own account and my own stations.
In Conclusion –
It would seem from reading the above that there are more downsides than upsides, however my experience has been excellent and I *love* Pandora Radio. It is free and quick to sign up, so why not give it a try?
More Reading –
How Pandora Creates Stations And How to Customize Them
Using Pandora – Hidden Secrets of Customizing Your Pandora Stations
Over To You –
Have you used Pandora or a similar service? Would you like to try it out? Are you someone who likes to make their own playlist, or do you prefer someone else to pick the songs?
9 thoughts on “Pandora Radio”
This sounds intriguing to me; I too have lots of music I loved from the past that I don’t or can’t access. My phone is really low on storage though, so I’m not sure I could download it there. Maybe my tablet?
I have it on my laptop, phone and tablet. I use it on the laptop and phone most of all, but that is because I really only use my tablet when reading and I do not like to play music while reading. :)
It is built into our car sound system, and also one called Stitcher which I guess is similar, but I’ve never investigated them and we don’t have a data allowance that allows us to play music using the data connection.
I know nothing about Stitcher at all. We did use Pandora on our recent Sydney trip via The Other Half’s mobile phone, it was one day till the data rolled over and he had plenty of data to use up. Probably 5 hours total of music playing was about 20% of his data allowance. :)
Pandora is not for me. Something that chews up data allowance? no thanks. Plus I have regular radio from a small radio over on the thingy in the corner, and a 30GB ipod with only songs that I like, I can run that all day without hearing the same song twice. Then there’s the i-tunes list on my laptop. That’s enough for me.
Good to hear you are all set for music, River. :) I’ve had the same cd in my car for a couple of years now, I really ought to burn a new one. :)
I LOVE Pandora! I use it in on my iPhone (grrrr, have to unlock it to thumbs up/down like you said) over my Bluetooth Bose speaker while I’m working in my glass studio. And sometimes in my car. I’ve also noticed that the ads have diminished, and thankfully they’re pretty short.
I have to check it on my new phone which arrived this week – I think this one might let me thumbs up without having to unlock. :) I have not had an ad in days now, and I always play it when preparing lunch for at least 30 minutes. :)
I’ve found myself using Google Music more than Pandora – mostly because I like being able to import my music from my iTunes library (and other libraries without having to import them into iTunes). Interestingly, it’s actually twice as much for Google Music than Pandora, but that will let you listen to *every* song in their library, plus unlimited skipping, ad free radio, etc.
Though there is one thing with Pandora I really like – it’s the integration with my car’s Sync audio system (created by Microsoft of all companies!). If I’m using the USB connection on my stereo, it will let me press the audio button and I can say things like “Thumbs Up,” “Thumbs Down” or even “Play Take That Radio” to change stations. It’s an awesome trick :)
One other note on Pandora – it seems that if I’m listening to it through my Sonos, I hardly hear ads, but on my phone or iPad, I’ll get the ads. In browser, I don’t get ads because AdBlock (or on Chrome lately uBlock Origin) ;)