pandora — it rocks. (even with anomolies.)

you know, pandora is really cool. i know i’ve said it before, but it deserves repeating.
here’s the deal: you put in a song or artist you like, it creates a “station” for you based on that song or artist. then the station randomly plays songs that are similar in some form or fashion to what you put (vocal style, instruments, beat, genre, etc.). you can give a thumbs up to songs you like and thumbs down to ones you don’t, and over time the station centers more (hopefully) on what you like about the original artist/song. so you get to hear a bunch of songs you’ll probably like — some of which you’ve probably never heard. it’s a great way to find new bands based on bands you know you like. and you can have multiple channels based on different starting points.
it’s really a neat offering. unfortunately, along with the rest of the online music providers and streamers (like soma fm), they’ve been getting screwed by soundexchange and the copyright royalty board (crb) and seem to always be near death due to the unfair royalty fees the idiots want to hoist on online music providers.
anyway, that’s really all just background, as the story i want to tell is how something weird happened with my pandora account a few months ago. i logged in and suddenly there were all of these new stations i hadn’t created. unfortunately, this magical musical fairy godmother didn’t have good taste in music. i mean, it almost made me give up on humanity entirely. it was that bad. and it was in my pandora account! i wiped out the channels and continued on my way.
a month or so later i noticed most if not all of them were back. so it wasn’t some one-time random anomaly — this poor being, whoever they were and however they were in my account, was serious about choosing this list of…”artists.” i wiped them out again, and this time changed my password even though i didn’t think anyone knew the password.
a month later the crap was back, now with even more friends. at this point i really didn’t know what to do, but it appeared my evil musical fairy godmother wasn’t going away, so i emailed pandora support:

Subject: pandora station oddities on my account
greetings. i have this odd problem where somehow someone with crappy taste in music (in my opinion) keeps adding channels to my account. this has happened on several occasions. i delete them and then they come back. a few weeks ago i went so far as to change my account password, even though i don't think anyone has or had it. the last time i logged in, the channels were back (bon jovi, rick springfield, nickelback, alien ant farm, etc?) and i even noticed they'd added an artist to my list of bookmarked artists. (i mean... lifehouse. seriously?) this stuff happened on numerous dates, including 2/28, 3/10, 3/11, 3/12, etc by looking at the add dates.
anyway, i was just wondering if perhaps there is a problem in the backend database or something where my account is somehow tied into that of either a small child randomly pressing buttons or an alterna-rocker in their early 40's with a secret love for crappy male crooners. in either case, is there any way y'all can exorcise this sad ghost in the machine? (and if the person who happens to get this email really really likes kings of leon and...whatever a micheal buble is...i apologize for talking smack about your...uh..."taste" in music. sorry, i tried to be nice. really. if it makes you feel better, you can make fun of my music too.)
for what it's worth, i really appreciate y'all and what you're doing. it was a cool idea, and i've tried to promote it by word of mouth, as well as do my part to help online stations such as yourself and soma fm not get screwed over by the royalty board and soundexchange. i'm sorry a bunch of greedy idiots want to fsck good things up because they don't understand the value or how things should work (killing promotion for small artists so the big guys can make some more bucks is pretty lame).
anyway, thanks for any assistance.

later the same day i got a response:

Subject: Re: pandora station oddities on my account
Hello TeRRY:
Thank you for taking the time to write us here at Pandora. I apologize that you are having some issues.
I believe I see the issue - you have 2 iPhones and a Samsung Blu-Ray player associated with your account. Are all of these devices yours? If not, I will remove the associations with your account.
Also, thanks for the kind words TeRRY. We strive to connect people with music they will love. It's rewarding to hear that we have succeeded with you. Thanks for spreading the word to so many people - that means EVERYTHING to us.
Let me know on the devices and we'll get your account back on track. Thanks Terry.

i replied the next day…

On Apr 1, 2009, at 6:43 PM, xxxx @ Pandora Support wrote:
> Let me know on the devices and we'll get your account back on track. Thanks Terry.
hey josh. thanks for the reply. i do have an iphone and a samsung blu-ray player. i don't have 2 iphones though. i'm not sure how my account would have gotten on a second iphone. although i did buy an 8-gig when the 3g first came out and then returned it 2 weeks later for a 16-gig. i'm sure i wiped the device...but maybe if pandora remembers the device id outside of the account info being stored on the iphone? i don't know. anyway, i'm assuming i can re-associate any of my devices if you wipe the association from your end, so if you want to be safe you can go ahead and wipe all of them and i'll just reconnect the ones that i am currently using.
> Also, thanks for the kind words TeRRY.
it's not hard to find kind words - y'all have a cool product and i've found new bands through pandora that i've gone on to buy cds from. these aren't platinum-selling artists that are pushed by their deep-pocketed record labels -- these are independent artists and artists on smaller labels who stand to benefit the most from your kind of offering (and stand to be hurt the worst by those same deep-pocketed record labels who don't care about these kinds of artists in general, despite their lip service to the contrary).

josh wrote back a little later:

Thanks for writing back - I have removed the iPhones - you will need to sign in on it - let me know if you have any trouble. Thanks again for the words - You truly GET IT..... very cool. Rock on Terry

so, thank you josh at pandora support. hopefully this will resolve my problem, and any poor musical choices on my pandora account in the future will only be my own. so far the bad music hasn’t come back, but the last times it took a while. hopefully my pandora account was somehow tied to some other iphone, and that was the source of the poor musical choices. if it was your iphone, please don’t hate me for my disparaging remarks about your love of generic altra-rock and male pop-rock crooners. i noticed the last time you’d also put the classical composer bach in, which gives me hope. (even though you’d also added an all-live bon jovi channel, which kind of took the wind out of my new-found hope’s sails.)
for those interested, here’s the page for my pandora account:
side note: as cool as pandora is, sometimes it’s annoying to have to run it in a browser. so i run the pandora desktop app on adobe air on linux, and i just started running pandoraboy for mac. being able to stream it over the network through my samsung blu-ray player (and thus play it over my home stereo) is pretty slick too.

6 comments on “pandora — it rocks. (even with anomolies.)”

  1. Pandora so totally TOTALLY rocks!!! I love this entry!!! This is one of those things that makes me say, “see? this is why we’re friends”. You would be totally jealous of my Pandora t-shirt. I need to wear it more often. I want another one, in black or a dark color – the one I have is kinda grayish. Be sure to subscribe to their RSS feed so at the very least you can know when they are coming to town again for a town meeting. The town meetings are completely awesome. Listening to Tim Westergren speak is highly recommended.
    Cool story! In my experience and in everything I’ve ever heard from others, corresponding with Pandora is always a pleasure.
    I heard they finally got Pandora for BlackBerry. I’ll need to check that out asap. We should be friends on there. I can’t wait to send you my Drop Trio station! *And*, I know you can’t either.

  2. this line: (even though you’d also added an all-live bon jovi channel, which kind of took the wind out of my new-found hope’s sails.)
    is pure genius. I laughed out loud on reading that.

  3. jamie: looking back at my blog’s past, i can see i evidently signed up for pandora on april 20th, 2006. i remember you mentioning the townhall meeting on your blog, and me being annoyed i’d missed it. i’ve probably missed more since. why don’t you just tell me in advance in the future? 🙂
    i’m sure you can use the above info to friend me. but don’t be surprised if i just can’t seem to figure out how to accept receipt of your drop trio station.
    ash: until i can’t avoid the wrath of bon jovi fans and/or obama fanatics with that comment, i’m naming it and claiming it. thanks for your support.

  4. Oh. Right. I could just tell you I suppose. I can’t believe it has been that freaking long!!!
    Also, while I’m doing all of this talking-to-you-about-it-directly stuff, I’m going to just go ahead and make you a CD, or 6, with all of my favorite DT songs. Good thinking!

  5. Dear Pandora Visitor,
    We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

  6. i forgot about pandora blocking access from the rest of the world. i remember when they did that. i think if you poke around on google you can find some ways to get around the restriction (such as with proxies located in the u.s.), but i’m not sure you can do it both simply *and* free.

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