I recently discovered Pandora (thanks, David Weinberger). And can I just say that the Music Genome Project is about the coolest name for a project I’ve ever heard?

But in a way it’s bumming me out. It’s a bit depressing to discover how predictable my musical taste is. One channel I’ve created, for example, that I consider my easy listening channel (though I suspect it would not be so for most people), is based on the Cocteau Twins: music that I can work to and use as ambient background, with no or at least ignorable lyrics. (I have other channels based on more, shall we say, indigestible music.)

Anyway, what depresses me is just how banal my musical tastes seem when reduced to Pandora’s categories. Apparently, the Cocteau Twins employ:

  • basic rock song structures
  • repetitive melodic phrasing
  • subtle use of vocal harmony
  • minor key tonality
  • new age influences

…and a host of other things, all equally boring when you say them like this. I fear that this says something fundamental about metadata… that metadata is the reduction of rich content to banalities, or something. Out of respect for Jane, however, I’m not sure I’m willing to go there yet though. This bears more thought.

As an aside, the ads on Pandora are interesting. Not because I’m inclined to actually purchase any of the goods on offer, but because it’s interesting to see how advertisers are spinning their message for this new market niche. (When an ad is less effective as an ad than as a case study in marketing, I suppose it has to be considered a failure.) The most interesting ad was this one: “Create and print Gwen Stefani-inspired projects from HP at hp.com/gwen” Now, I couldn’t care less about Gwen Stefani. Until I looked her up just now I would have said she was the vocalist from Garbage (apparently that’s Shirley Manson). What’s interesting to me is that advertisers are taking the approach that if I’m interested in things like X, I might also be interested in things like Y, even if the things are completely different in nature: material goods instead of music. Actually, now that I think about it, this isn’t really any different from Amazon’s (or any other online vendor’s) recommender system: customers who bought music by the Cocteau Twins also bought Gwen Stefani’s line of hair barretts. Or whatever. It only seemed different at first glance because with Pandora I’m not actually buying anything.