Pandora Radio is a fun and unique way to discover your next favorite song. If you haven’t tried it before, you’re in for a treat (assuming you live in the United States – as of this writing, the music is only licensed for domestic play). Just go to pandora.com, type in the name of a band you like, and sit back. You’ll hear all sorts of related music, but not necessarily related in the ways you’d think. Pandora doesn’t use sales data like Amazon’s “Recommended if you like” suggestions. Instead, their team of fifty editors exhaustively analyze each song’s musical characteristics, using nearly 400 attributes!
Beyond their contribution to the world of music, I feel like I owe them a personal debt of gratitude. Every couple of weeks, I get an e-mail from someone saying they heard me on Pandora, and asking what album the song they heard is on. There’s a ‘Buy’ option right inside Pandora, so I’m only hearing from that small slice of listeners who want the CD but don’t see that option, don’t think to check iTunes, Amazon, or my web site, yet are able to figure out my e-mail address.
In my opinion, the best form of promotion is word-of-mouth. Pandora takes the concept one step further by automating the process. It’s easy to set up any number of personal radio stations, which continually modify their playlists based on user input.
Musicians can learn how to submit their music here. Fortunately for everyone involved, they are very discriminating. Setting the bar high saves listeners from slogging through every band with a MySpace page. With so much content on the internet, filters are more important than ever. I don’t remember if I sent them all of my albums, but as far as I can tell they’ve only included a handful of songs from three out of my six. The seventh is on the way, and I’m optimistic about its chances. We’ll know in 6-8 weeks!
Update 2/09: The Thought Chapter made the cut, so I owe the folks at Pandora another big smoochie!
Update 6/09: Pandora updated their submission process. In order to submit your music, you must have the physical CD for sale at Amazon. That requires signing up for the Amazon Advantage program, which I would advise against for most artists. It’s $30 a year, they take 55% of the sales price, and they make you ship CDs to them one at a time. It’s a lot of time and effort for the mere chance of being included on Pandora, but I can see why it makes sense for them to raise the bar and reduce the number of submissions.
Update 8/10: The submission process has been streamlined, but still requires that the physical CD is on sale at Amazon.com. You enter the UPC and upload two mp3s for review. If accepted, you send the physical CD. Submit your music here.
Update 2/14: You no longer need to have a physical CD! The entire process is now digital. Details here.