By November 17, 2010

Pandora: Electronic Music of Yesteryear?

“I stopped using Pandora,” my friend Bond said last week. “It plays a bunch of old music.”

“No way,” I huffed, defending my beloved music suggestion service. I learned about Pendulum through Pandora, and I just heard Infected Mushroom’s latest album on my “Don’t Go to Sleep” custom station.

I wrote down the next 50 songs I listened to and when they were released.

I was startled to discover that only one out of 50 songs was released in 2010. All of the other songs were older — in some cases dating back to 2000, practically antiquarian.

Here’s the data.

50 Songs From Pandora, By Release Year

199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010
140645754481

Why is Pandora playing old music?

I am not really sure why the vast majority of the music Pandora selected for me is more than two years old. I have a few ideas, but they are just guesses.

  • Royalties. Is it possible that newer songs carry a higher royalty to play?
  • Self-selection. I started my primary station (Don’t Go To Sleep) in 2008 and have seeded it with fifteen artists and one song. I’ve liked, or “thumbed-upped” 57 songs as of today. I have disliked, or “thumbed-down” twelve songs. Maybe I have taught Pandora what my interests are to the point that it plays songs mostly from the middle of the 00s. On the other hand, 2009 was the single most played year.
  • Catalog stagnation / limits. This is Bond’s favorite theory. Perhaps Pandora hasn’t added very many new songs to their catalog. Bond listens to a lot of Eastern European dance and electronic music, and he says Pandora’s selection is vary narrow.

I’ll still listen

Whatever the reason, I’ll keep listening to Pandora. I’ve been an active listener since 2006 and pay for Pandora One. However, I’m curious to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, or maybe knows why the age of my music has flatlined.

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Posted in: music

3 Comments on "Pandora: Electronic Music of Yesteryear?"

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  1. Bond says:

    Thanks for breaking this down. It shows amazing character and attention to detail on your part! I still like Pandora for certain genres and situations (party mix) and often alternate between traditional Internet Radio and Pandora.

  2. BushPutin says:

    Perhaps it is due to the manual process in which it takes for songs to get into the library. There are finite resources and no one genre takes precedence over the others, however, when branching into new genres it does take more resources to analyze, catalog and encode.

    Essentially, Pandora could just stuff their catalog with un-analyzed music but I think the listeners would suffer for that. I have, personally, found a lot of new music using the service but it isn’t all from the last 10 months.

    Then there is, of course, traditional radio. I hear, on local stations, an almost constant stream of Nirvana and Sublime….and that makes _me_ feel old. So, I guess it really comes down to what the given value of ‘old’ really is for each person.

    -BushPutin

  3. DrFaulken says:

    Thanks for the insight — I was hoping that you would make a comment!

    I was curious if anyone else you knew had an answer, or if it is just “the way that it is.” 🙂