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Interview with Tim Westergren of Pandora

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Last night, you may have seen that Stephen Colbert interviewed Tim Westergren, one of the founders of Pandora and the Music Genome Project. Mr Westergren was one of our earliest videos, and our first foray into the world of the arts and music (and our first interview over Skype too!!!).

This is what Mitch wrote about that interview:
The Music Genome Project is exactly what the name describes, a focused effort to break down songs into hundreds of individual musical aspects (genes), everything from tempo and rhythm to the instrumentation and the amount of distortion used. They then catalog these 'genes', creating an accurate objective description (like a genome) of every musical aspect of the song. Collectively, the genomes build a 'musical taxonomy', an empirical explanation of the entire spectrum of music. So far, the project has cataloged over 700,000 songs of all sorts of varieties, with more songs being analyzed and added to the library daily.

After several years of cataloging, the Music Genome Project released Pandora Internet Radio as a way of bringing their research to the public. Pandora reinvents radio. Instead of having many people tune into one station and listen to whatever a single DJ decides, Pandora creates a station, or several stations for each individual user based on what the user want's to listen to. The user inputs a song or artist and Pandora searches the Music Genome Project for songs with matching musical genes. It then builds a station or personalized playlist of songs similar to the desired song or artist and streams that customized station over the internet for free.

I personally am a big Pandora fan, mainly because it allows me to easily discover and listen to new artists similar to the ones I love. It gives me many more options to listen to the kind of music that I feel like listening to at any given time. I can keep my interests broad and put in a single song or artist and listen to a wide variety of tunes. Alternatively, I can keep adding artists and songs to my station to isolate a particular aspect of music that I want to hear. It combines my two methods of listening to music. I usually either listen to an album or MP3 or tune into a traditional radio station but Pandora combines the best aspects of both. I simultaneously get to choose what I listen to, like I would listening to a recording that I own, and listen to new material, like I would hear on traditional radio.

I very much enjoyed speaking with Mr. Westergren and learning about how he helped to craft Pandora and the Music Genome Project into what they are today. For more info about Pandora and to try it out, please go to And, as Mr Westergren mentions, they are very interested in user feedback so please try it out and let them know what you think!!
Here is the Colbert Report interview:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tim Westergren
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News


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