By Jami Miedema

When I’m in the mood to listen to good music, there are few things more frustrating than hearing endless commercials on the radio followed by the same five song rotation. I like variety! By variety, I don’t mean different genres necessarily, but rather different songs with similar attributes. That’s why I’m so excited to have found Pandora, an online radio service that uses the Music Genome Project to recommend music I may enjoy.

The Music Genome Project was started in early 2000 by individuals who were interested in analyzing music to be able to classify songs according to certain characteristics. Their passion for music resulted in a complex algorithm used to organize songs based on over 400 attributes. Pandora is using this technology to make music suggestions to their users.

Pandora is easy and fun to use. Once you create your free account, enter a song or artist to create a music station. You can create as many stations as you wish, then let the music play. If you like a song, give it a thumbs-up, and more songs similar to that one will play. If you don’t like the song, give it a thumbs-down, and it will skip over the song, not play it again, and will play fewer that are like it. When you’re in the mood for something else, change your station. Pandora also gives its users the option to buy the song from Amazon or iTunes, bookmark the song/artist on a favorites list, move the song to another station, or opt to not play the song for a month. It also explains why it picked the song that is playing, and gives a brief description of the artist, album, and song qualities.

The more an individual uses Pandora, the “smarter” the technology gets at guessing its user’s tastes and preferences. If you’d like to set up an account, go to Pandora can be accessed anywhere with an online connection, and all you need is an email address to log-in. If you’re tired of your local radio station’s playlist or need to update your iPod, I urge you to give Pandora a try!