Pandora & The Music Genome Project

This isn’t directly related to Science or Software (the topics that usually occupy my writing here at OpenScience), but is changing how I listen to music. The Pandora site claims to be powered by something called The Music Genome Project. I can’t tell exactly how the MGP operates, but it looks like they have some pretty cool software that scans through music files looking for things like tempo, use of major chords, frequency ranges of vocals, mix of instrumentation. Once a song or artist has been “genotyped”, Pandora can use it to suggest (with a shockingly high degree of accuracy) other songs you might like.

The hit rate for my first Pandora “radio station” (featuring odd pop-punk bands like Sahara Hotnights, The Decemberists, and Hot Hot Heat) has been nearly perfect. After a few minutes of setup, I’m still listening an hour later.

I’d love to know more details on how the Music Genome Project actually works. I remember hearing about it on NPR a few months ago, but couldn’t tell from that report what was going on behind the scenes.

[tags]music, genomics, radio[/tags]

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One Response to Pandora & The Music Genome Project

  1. pete says:

    Just FYI – but I don’t think this is a software thing. At least, it isn’t a software thing at the music analysis level. Rather it’s a group of musicians who study and then catalog songs. The technology part comes in searching the database and putting together songs of similar characteristics.

    From the Pandora blog:

    “I hope that as you use Pandora you will feel and hear this passion. Each song in the Genome has been carefully, dare I say lovingly studied. 15-30 minutes spent on each composition capturing the hundreds of musical nuances that give each song its unique sound. From the big name artists to the most indie of the indie – It’s not perfect, how could it be. But we’ve put everything we have into it.”

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