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RAIN 4/23: Wired details Pandora's use of new Facebook tools

Posted on: 04/23/2010


Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk takes a closer look at the partnership between Facebook and Pandora we reported on yesterday (here). Users will notice the most changes when using Pandora, not Facebook. For example, users can link their Facebook profile in Pandora and instantly see what stations and artists their friends listen to. Van Buskirk notes (here), “With your accounts integrated, you can make stations from any song a friend has liked and can copy their artist stations over to your own profile, where they will be shaped by your own musical preferences.”

And then there’s those “Like” buttons that will soon appear around the Internet. When you click one of those anywhere online, Pandora can access that information — using the Open Graph API Facebook recently announced — and use it to further personalize your experience.

Additionally, when you’re listening to a song one of your friends has “liked,” “a tag will appear to let you know. One side effect of this new feature will likely be to encourage Pandora users to add more tracks to their favorites…the more they sculpt their stations and preferences, the more reason they have to stick with Pandora for their online (and, increasingly, device-based) radio listening.”

What’s nice about these integrations is Facebook is running almost in the background: Facebook is collecting user data not to spam all your friends with your Pandora listening patterns (though you can still do that if you want), but to further improve your Pandora listening experience and make it more social. “Pandora + Facebook = such easy math that even the busy or excessively lazy can integrate it into their lives,” Van Buskirk writes. The implication here is that Internet radio can leverage already existing data and information from Facebook to make their services more user-friendly — webcasters don’t have to reinvent the social networking wheel.


Programming a personalizable Internet radio station shouldn’t be about “just playing songs that ‘sound like’ other songs you like,” nor should it “[play] songs that you’ve played in the past, interspersed with songs other people with similar tastes have listened to,” at least according to Andrew Dubber. Dubber, who has a bit of a history with music and broadcast radio, offers up some ideas on how to make customizable Internet radio better in a recent blog post. For example, he argues there should be programming rules — like “don’t play me two songs by the same artist within an hour,” and “don’t play me the same song at the same time each day”. Additionally, services could change the music selection based on moods, what time of day it is or even the weather in your area. Dubber has plenty more ideas here.

“The idea is to have your own personalised radio station. Not the poor approximation to that we have at the moment, but rather, as if you’d hired a radio music programmer, and asked them to make a radio station just for you, using your own music collection as a starting point,” Dubber writes. “Please go ahead and make this. The idea’s up for grabs.”

Radio expert James Cridland — whose blog post here tipped us to Dubber’s ideas — adds, “From my point of view, the problem isn’t that the technology doesn’t exist – it does; it’s the issue of user interface.” What do you think? Are Dubber’s ideas worth pursuing? Got any ideas of your own? Share your thoughts by commenting on today’s issue!

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