Pandora adds social features

Pandora adds social features

Summary: The music discovery service Pandora has added a number of social features meaning that it now competes a little more directly with Last.fm.

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The music discovery service Pandora has added a number of social features meaning that it now competes a little more directly with Last.fm and iLike, which have always put social networking at their heart. Every user of Pandora has their own profile which includes a bio, all of their personalized radio stations, bookmarked tracks or artists, and bookmarked members. Pandora users can also leave comments on each other's profiles, as well as search for users who have similar musical tastes or live locally.

Pandora search

It's interesting to see Pandora add basic social networking features to its service, but it feels way too much like an after-thought, and has a long way to go before it reaches the level of social interaction possible on Last.fm.

Part of the reason why Pandora is late to the social, is that despite being continuously compared to Last.fm, the two services approach music discovery in completely different way.

Pandora uses a 'top down' model where a group of experts have analyzed the component parts or 'genes' of the musical works of over 10,000 artists. The result of which is that you can tell Pandora to create a radio station based on songs that have similar 'genes' to a chosen artist or track.

Pandora player

Last.fm on the other hand takes a much more 'bottom up' approach, whereby the system collects listening data from its members from which they can create personalized radio stations and social network with other users. Whilst Last.fm can be used in a spoon fed way similar to Pandora, the social aspect of the service has always meant that it has had as much in common with social networking sites like MySpace, than with Pandora.

Despite these different approaches, I'm a big fan of both services - although if I want to be spoon fed music, Pandora seems to work slightly better (Last.fm throws me the odd clanger now and again). However, being based in the UK, I've had no way of legally using Pandora's service as its license is restricted to the US. The good news for us Brits is that according to Mike Butcher, Pandora is about to cross the pond.

Update: It seems Pandora still has a little way to go before it launches in the UK, though it is making progress.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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