SAN FRANCISCO--Pandora internet radio may seem like a rather recent phenomenon, a startup borne of the last couple of years, but the company has actually been working on its highly advanced music selection algorithm for 12 years. The company counts 125 million listeners in the U.S. and is rapidly expanding its reach.
The Music Genome Project, the founding notion behind Pandora, was designed by the firm’s Chief Musicologist Nolan Gasser, who believed musical attributes, like genetic traits, could be isolated and analyzed in order to create a better understanding of the whole entity. In biology, this entity is the human being, in musicology, it is a song, made up of a multitude of characteristics like chords, lyrics, harmonies, instrumentation and much, much more.
“Every song on Pandora has been analyzed by a musician,” a Pandora spokesperson told us at CES in Las Vegas last week, adding that each song contained between 200 and 450 different attributes that made it unique.
By cataloging each attribute, Pandora’s algorithm can then sort each song according to its musicology (how it sounds) and use that data to know whether a particular user would enjoy it or not based on their music preferences and history.
The algorithm is helped along by a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” from users, which helps Pandora figure out the pattern of what specifically it is about certain songs that users like or dislike, helping to refine the music selection even further.
Pandora listeners don’t even have to know what it is they like or don’t about particular songs, the science in the Music Genome Project figures it out for them as time goes by.
The ultimate goal of Pandora is to create playlists of songs for listeners that they love, which includes songs they may never have heard before, and which listeners may even be unable to pinpoint what it is about them that they like.
Pandora’s biggest push at the moment is aimed at in-car infotainment, a lucrative industry being pursued by a multitude of tech players, from chip makers to software programmers and car manufacturers themselves.
Last year at CES Pandora had just four automotive OEM partners, but this year the firm is already boasting 16, including new partnerships with Kia and Accura. The Internet radio company also has seven after-market partners bringing its total automotive reach to 23 vendors.
“The key to in car infotainment is personalization,” a spokeswoman told us at the show, noting she was excited about the momentum driving Pandora forward.
Watch the video below for more from Pandora at CES: