Rob Walker wrote an article called, “The Song Decoders,” which was published in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday. If you’re unfamiliar with Pandora it’s a great way to get up to speed; if you already use it, it’ll help you understand the way the recommendation engine actually functions. Pandora’s model is unique partly because of the musicologists behind the scenes – the people who rate each song on its melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and sound (and dozens of smaller categories within each of those aspects). Surprisingly, Pandora only has 700,000 songs in its library, significantly less than some of the other online streaming sites.
Pandora’s approach to listening violates at least three pieces of conventional digital-music wisdom: it rejects the supremacy of social-data taste communities; it shrugs off the assumption that contemporary listeners must have instant on-demand access to any single song; and, most striking, it rejects what many observers see as a given, which is that music consumers are fundamentally motivated by access to the most massive pool of songs possible.
This article is definitely worth a read, especially as Walker writes, “if you’re interested in the future of listening.”
Click here to read the entire article, and let us know what you think!