Monday, September 04, 2006

How Technology Is Shaking Up The Hierarchy Of Tastemakers

The New York Times: "Music Fans are learning to trust one another more than the experts. No wonder they're making the industry so nervous."

The New Tastemakers
By JEFF LEEDS, The New York Times, Sept 3, 2006

SETH FORD-YOUNG is a professional bass player who performs up to five nights a week with local jazz and rock bands and occasionally lends his talents to recording sessions for artists like Tom Waits. But these days he has an unusual second gig. As a senior music analyst at Pandora Media, he spends roughly 25 hours a week wearing headphones in an office suite here, listening to songs by artists like Sonny Boy Williamson and Memphis Slim and dicing them into data points. Is the singer’s voice gravelly or silky? Is the scope of the song modest or epic? Does the electric guitar sound clean or distorted?

As he listens, in a room not far from an elevated stage with drums, guitars and amps for employee jam sessions, Mr. Ford-Young fills out a scorecard on which he can rate hundreds of traits in each song on a five-point scale. Bit by bit, Pandora’s music analysts have built a massive archive of data, cataloging the minute characteristics of more than 500,000 songs, from alt-country to bossa nova to metal to gospel, for what is known as the Music Genome Project.
At pandora.com visitors are invited to enter the name of their favorite artist or song and to get in return a stream of music with similar “DNA,” in effect a private Internet radio station microtailored to each user’s tastes. Since the service made its debut last November, more than three million people have signed up....read more: HERE

9/04/2006 03:37:00 PM

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