Monday, February 13, 2006

Pandora vs. LAUNCHcast

In the last few days, I have been addicted to Pandora, a free music streaming application that takes advantage of the data collected in the Music Genome Project. Musicians and technologists got together and analyzed the musical qualities of many recordings, taking note of their physical qualities such as melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and vocal qualities. You tell Pandora some artists or songs you like, and it uses this data to find other songs it thinks you will like and then plays them for you. You then can indicate for each song it plays whether or not you like it or not. It uses the feedback to fine-tune the songs it chooses next. Pretty interesting project. The sound quality of the songs is great. You can create multiple stations each with their own set of inputs (artists, songs, and ratings on which to base the playlist) and you can email those stations to friends so they can listen to what you've created.

Pandora reminds me of Yahoo's LAUNCHcast, another music streaming application that also lets you rate the music. LAUNCHcast, though, chooses music based on the ratings of other LAUNCHcast listeners instead of on the music's physical qualities. It is similar to the way recommends books and music to you. This approach is a little more interesting to me because it can be full of pleasant surprises. For example, if there are many people out there that like John Coltrane and also like Tribe Called Quest, LAUNCHcast might play Tribe Called Quest for me if I rate John Coltrane highly even though the two artists' music don't have a lot in common physically. There just may be some unexplainable reason that people who like Coltrane also like Tribe. Pandora would never be able to make that association. Instead it would keep playing saxophone-centric jazz from the 60's.

The major drawback for LAUNCHcast is that it only works on Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers. This means I can't use my favorite Firefox browser and, even worse, I can't listen to it on Linux, which I use at work. Pandora, on the other hand, is a Flash application so it works in Firefox and on Linux!


gbdarren said...

It's funny, but I just found this article when I did a search on Google. I pay for LaunchCast, but I'm impressed with Pandora as well. I use both occasionally, and I also listen to XM radio while I work.

jocnt said...

I've been waiting for a feature like this! Yesterday while I was listening to a nostalgic tune from high school I thought to myself, "I wish I could share this with my HS friends on my FB page", and now I can.

Thanks for the update! Looking for more integration in the future.