The new tastemakers

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  January 31, 2007

Its technology is getting sharper, too. In my fit of initial despair with Pandora, I asked Westergren whether Pandora would ever be able to incorporate personal data into its suggestions, so unsuccessful searches (like Ian Paige’s, in his sidebar “Facing the Music”) might become less frequent. The wink in his response was apparent: “It would indeed be possible for us to take into account the kind of ‘meta’ data points you mentioned.”

It’s likely that Pandora is interested in dabbling in the demographic and sociological guidance that other Internet radio stations specialize in, but there’s a certain concern that pigeonholing artists, so only certain “types” of people will get to hear them, could disrupt Pandora’s democratic nature. Ideas like this will probably be chief among the concerns that users have when Westergren and company come to Portland on February 6 for a get-together with local users, to find out who's using, why, and what they think.

More than a simple promotional tour, the Pandora ethic suggests that the company is holding these town meetings (and giving away free gear) because they want their program to work as well as it possibly can. They’ve got the sonic know-how to make a recommendation way out of left field not only make sense, but also add some foundation and depth to your musical inclinations. They just don’t want to offend your fragile image too much along the way.

Pandora get-together | February 6 | 7 pm | at SPACE Gallery, in Portland | Free | 207.828.5600

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