I’m happy to report that songs from my latest two CDs are now available for streaming through Pandora.com, a unique internet radio site created by the Music Genome Project. At Pandora, users create their own radio stations by entering a favorite artist or song, which Pandora then uses to find songs with similar characteristics; and now that my songs are in the mix, they can be used to create stations or to come up on stations created for similar artists, albums, or genres.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the day when my songs would become available on Pandora, and when I found out they finally were, I was a little nervous to try out a station based on myself. How would Pandora categorize my work? What genre would they think I’m in when different songs from the same CD were meant to satirize different genres of music? I felt like I was being reviewed by scientists.
Well, tonight I took the plunge and fired up a station based on the artist Rob Paravonian (there was no option for ‘me’). The first song up was HMO from my 2001 CD Living it Down, a pleasant surprise as it’s one of my personal faves musically. I clicked on the song info to find out what characteristics–they call them the song’s ‘genes’–were attributed to it. “Electric rock instrumentation,” “subtle use of vocal harmony,” “major key tonality” were all very clinical, and boring. But then I saw “punk influences.”
Sweet! Pandora considers me to have punk influences? Man, Pandora, you sure know how to get on a guy’s good side. I pressed the “thumbs up” button and waited to see what song Pandora would land on next.
The Tygers of Pan Tang? Who the heck are they? Apparently a British metal band from the 80’s who released a new album in 2008. Okaaay. Still, the song was good so I let it play out to see what organically would come up next; but when a German thrash-punk band came on I had to hit the “thumbs down.”
Chastened, Pandora went straight back to a Rob P. track, this time Drinking With Industry, from the latest CD Songs From The Second Floor. This song’s genes included “interweaving vocal harmony” and “humorous lyrics.” Yay! Humorous lyrics! The scientists finally got a joke, at least. The exercise in vanity continued as I gave myself another “thumbs up.”
As I explored my own personal Rob Paravonian station my anxiety abated somewhat and I began to enjoy the unexpected connections between my songs and others. Maybe someone out there will stumble upon a song of mine and I’ll find a new fan, simply because my music has now been ‘genomed.’