This & That

Pandora Killed the Radio Star

There’s no mistaking it’s summer because when my window is rolled down (rolled? do they still roll?) I can hear all sorts of music from other cars, the drivers of which either don’t have AC like myself or want to be more organic, experiencing the heat and humidity like squirrels and trees do. I’ll eat organic fruit but I don’t need organic weather. My AC went out a couple summers ago. What it would cost to get it fixed didn’t seem worth it to me, not when you’ve endured summers in Arizona.

Back to the music of other drivers. Recently, I heard a fellow driver blasting ‘80s hair band music—it may have been Def Leppard or Guns N’ Roses—and I started thinking about how some people choose, whether intentionally or not, to stop listening to new music. Maybe they run out of money to buy CDs or just figure it couldn’t get better than Mötley Crue. Either way, they don’t move on.

As a worship leader it’s important for me to be aware of new trends in music. If I get stuck in a particular style or keep singing the same songs over and over, then I won’t last long in my profession. The best musicians are those that are able to progress with the trends and even pave the way for newer music. (Although, Elton John’s disco era is rather forgettable.)

I discovered a great resource several months back called Pandora Radio. If you’d like to explore new music or just find music similar to stuff you already like, check out this free Internet-streaming site. You simply type in the name of an artist you like (say, Sara Bareilles) or a song title (“Yesterday” by The Beatles) and Pandora puts together a playlist for you. As you go along, Pandora will fine-tune your set. Click the thumbs-up for stuff you like or the thumbs-down, and Pandora shapes your set based on your feedback.

How does it work? This from the Why This Song link on Matt Nathanson’s “Detroit Waves”:

We’re playing this track because it features electric rock instrumental, punk influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony, minor key tonality and many other similarities identified in the Music Genome Project.

pandora1There are features like bookmarking artists and songs you’d like to check out later. You can also share your Pandora music with others too. (I’ll be your friend if you’d like.)

Probably the greatest thing for me is being able to take Pandora with me. I can access my stations or create new ones from my iPhone. You can also use Pandora with a less cool phone like a Blackberry.

If you’d like to listen to music other than what the media conglomerates package for us, check out Pandora. You may never go back to regular radio again. (I’ve forgotten how to tune the one in my dash.)

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