Pandora, a music service, has been very useful in helping me find new songs. That’s what I use it for; to find new songs.
The GUI of the Pandora website reminds me a bit of Google. It’s very a very simple interface, which is a good thing for playing the music. However, this interface plays out their the whole site and leaves me wanting more to look at for my profile and other pages. The homepage displays one(1) ad on the page. The ads usually change with every song or refresh of the page. Not only does the ad change, but so do the backgrounds of the page. The backgrounds usually end up matching the ad that’s being displayed. The ads are the same sizes, but depending on the color scheme can become obtrusive at times. You get used to them after a while. All other pages are use a standard template and have at least one(1) unobtrusive add towards the bottom of the page.
To use Pandora, you have to type in the name of a song or artist. Pandora will take over from there and introduce you to artists and songs of similar styles. This is also known as creating a station. When the songs are playing, you have the option to rate the song you are listening to, bookmark the song or artist, create a new station (up to 100 of them), purchase music, and look up more information on the artist or song you are listening to from Pandora’s database. When you bookmark a song or an artist, you will be taken to another page (via a new window/tab) that displays a list of similar songs or artists towards the bottom of the page. When viewing a song’s page, a list of attributes of the songs are displayed, along with a column on the left side that displays a list of people listening to that particular artist. You can also share songs with friends, which sends them a link to the song.
However, unlike Last.fm, a similar service, it does not keep a record of the songs you listen to, there is a limit on how many tracks you can skip within an hour (“6 per hour, per station, per quickmix”), and it’s pretty difficult to find other users. The only ways I’ve been able to find a way to listen to other users stations is to do a search under listener profiles and/or stations, and when bookmarking a song or an artist. The section that displays other users who are listening to that artist has clickable links to their profiles. Otherwise, unless you know their email address, these seem to be the only options. Consequently, you can bookmark people too and add other’s radio stations to your own.
Now, Pandora could definitely help you find new artists. However, it’s definitely not the tool to use to find new albums. So far, I have 15 new songs listed on stickies that Pandora introduced me to and that I fell in love with. Some of the songs are from artists that I’m already familiar with, but the majority of them aren’t. Pandora is definitely recommended. I have 7 radio stations so far. Each is designed for different moods that I’m usually in. I have a radio station for Rap, R&B, and something similar to classical music (I call this station soft music), for when I’m working on things and just want something playing in the background that’s not distracting. I just recently started using the bookmarking tool. I think it’s pretty cool for those who view your profile. You can also search for artist, songs, stations, and listener profiles.
All in all, I give Pandora 2 thumbs up. It’s definitely a service worth trying out.