Feb 26

Tim Westergren at Pandora Explains How He Saved Michelle’s Job

Tim WestergrenOK, so its not like Tim Westergren and the crew at Pandora covered for me when I was late or came up with a TPS cover sheet when I forgot one. I use Pandora everyday at work. It is the best internet radio station I’ve found. When I was on the brink of quitting my job despite not having something else lined up, the optimistic stylings of Pandora’s Buena Vista Social Club station kept my spirits up. When I struggled to get my work done while dealing with a miserable break up, I turned to my Ray LaMontagne station to help me cope or Parliament to put me in a better mood. The psychologist Oliver Sachs contends that music is not just enjoyable–it is actually therapeutic. Considering the armpit that is conventional radio and the fact that I can’t download music at work, Pandora offers me an invaluable service. Especially when you consider that it is completely free.

I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to Pandora’s Get Together and did not have a video camera to record Tim Westergren’s town hall style speech. Bummer. For those of you who were not there, Tim explained his background as a musician, the struggles Pandora faced as a startup in 1999, how the music that you choose actually got there, and future plans for Pandora. What were the coolest tidbits I heard?

  • Pandora employs 50 musicians to sort through the music you hear. When a musician hears a song, he or she sorts through hundreds of elements to classify that song for the Music Genome Project. Each 3-4 minute song takes about 40 minutes to completely analyze.
  • The Senate proposed a bill that would require webcasters to pay back royalties to musicians last year. Westergren asked users to respond, and respond they did. Pandora flooded Congress with so many faxes, they jammed the entire Capitol Hill fax infastructure for two days.
  • Users have been clamoring for Pandora on the iPhone as well as zip code specific playlists. Imagine, you listen to a band and then a message shows up that tells you about the show that band’s about to play in your area…
  • If you think Pandora sucks because they don’t play “your type of music”, just let them know what you do want to hear. Much of the music you find on Pandora is submitted by users. Word to the wise though, they only use about 30 percent of the music submitted to the site. If you think you can just pick up guitar, create a CD and all of a sudden be listed in Jimi Hendrix’s station, chances are you will have to think again.

If you are interested in some of the new developments behind Pandora and other internet radio stations, check out Pandora’s CTO Tom Conrad at SxSW when he discusses the future of internet radio.

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  • http://www.pandora.com/people/pandoralucia Lucia @ Pandora

    Wow, nice write-up, Michelle!

    We’re thrilled to hear that Pandora and Tim have kept you employed and that the music has served as a soundtrack to your life.

    Thanks for listening!

    - Lucia, from Pandora