Once more, with feeling

  • by , January 25, 2011

This is my first blog for Notes From the Digital Frontier and I feel that I should get something out of the way. A confession. I confess that I judge people. Or maybe a better term would be: “size people up.”

I’ve come to realize that I can gauge how well a person and I will get a long or on what level based on the types of music they listen to. I can’t be sure as to why I started doing this, but I can tell you when: middle school.

My family and I bought heavily into the use of Napster and similar programs, and I consider myself an equal product of my parents. My dad has worked with pagers, computers and other technology his entire life; my mom has spent her life as a housewife and stay at home mom, surfing the ‘net. Combine those two together and naturally you’d come up with me. I’ve been fascinated with technology and figuring out how electronics, gadgets and computer programs work for as long as I can remember. My lifelong quest to find my own genre(s) of music to obsess over is only one of the many manifestations of my curiosity.



I do not mean my confession to sound like I will not allow myself to be friends with people who do not share my musical tastes. I have friends who only listen to what plays on the radio, and I have other friends who I never even imagined listened to old school rap. I just appreciate people who dig a little deeper into the music world and find substance that they enjoy on a personal level. I mean, I’m as much of a T-Swift fan as everyone else in the world, but her music takes no effort to find. And there’s better out there. I appreciate and can closer bond with anyone who searches for music that affects them in his or her own way. Because that’s what I do.

I found myself at a loss, however, when downloading music became illegal. I just have to stop right now and play my “Poor, Broke College Student” card really quick to explain why I hated the idea of paying for music…especially if I had no idea if I’d even like it. I still had friends recommending music, but what did they know about my interests? Generally nothing. And because they were recommending music to me based on their own preferences, I had a hard drive filled with music I couldn’t erase fast enough (good effort guys.)

I have no idea who introduced me to free Pandora Radio, but if I ever figure out who it was, I have another confession to make: I am in love with that person.

It always blows my mind to think that people have the time to stop and create something so complex, so all encompassing and so helpful. I am thankful to Stith Thompson for creating the Motif Index because he has made research far easier for so many of us. But even more than I am thankful for him, I am thankful to Tim Westergren and the musicians that helped him conceive the Music Genome Project.

Because Pandora Radio seems to know me on some sort of scientific level, I have found so many new artists to obsess over; I credit my love for Regina Spektor entirely to Pandora Radio, and I give joint credit to it and my friends for my love for Ingrid Michaelson. Now it’s rare that I listen to any radio station beside my Regina Spektor station. Either it knows me really well or I know my related genres and artists really well because it has literally become a one stop shop for me. I knew I could stop looking when the station began playing an Otis Redding song (One of the most important facts to know about me: I love soul music and have been particularly in love with Otis Redding since I was 16. I even named my dog after him.).

Bonus points: A couple weekends ago, my friends and I were having an issue. They were having a party for a friend returning home from Spain, but we didn’t know what to put on the playlist because none of us regularly listen to rap or popular music that’s played on the radio. Guess who saved the day?

Pandora Radio, I am faithfully yours (…unless you ever force me to pay).

3 comments about "Once more, with feeling".
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  1. James, January 29, 2011 at 11:42 a.m.

    I discovered Ingrid and Regina the same way! What I love about Pandora is that you can trust it to be consistent. I keep Pandora open while I'm at my desk all day and I never have to worry about hearing the same songs over and over again. I'm forced to branch out. It reminds me of trying new food as a kid. My mom would say, "try this, you like it." I -already- like it? How did she know? Well...she's my mom. She knows me. Pandora's a lot like that.

    Good post!

  2. David Carlick from Carlick, January 31, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.

    You mean you like people who march to the beat of the same drummer, who sing from the same hymn book? Pun aside, music discovery and collaborative filtering were made for each other.

  3. Lisa from Ball State University, February 2, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.

    If they march to the beat of the same drummer and sing from the same hymn book, I am happily right there with them! I guess you can say I've found my people.

    And you're both right. Pandora IS always there for you...which it should be and will be because music discovery and collaborative filtering work so well together.

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