If you’ve ever wondered how Pandora does what it does read The New York Times article — ‘The Song Decoders’ by Rob Walker. It’s really pretty nuts. The overall theory of what they do ignores the social theory of music-liking (I love that term) you may have run into on Amazon or iTunes (“People who purchased Creed also liked Nickelback”) based on lumpy genres and broad-based buying habits. According to Walker,
Pandora’s approach more or less ignores the crowd. It is indifferent to the possibility that any given piece of music in its system might become a hit. The idea is to figure out what you like, not what a market might like. More interesting, the idea is that the taste of your cool friends, your peers, the traditional music critics, big-label talent scouts and the latest influential music blog are all equally irrelevant. That’s all cultural information, not musical information. And theoretically at least, Pandora’s approach distances music-liking from the cultural information that generally attaches to it.
But the ‘how’ of Pandora (known as ‘The Music Genome Project’) is nothing short of amazing.