Phoenix Unlimited

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pandora Music - making the Android worth it!

I'm a practical person. This means when I see a new smartphone or android phone with all its confangled doo-hickeys and the like, my first reaction is: Why? I have a computer. I paid good money for that computer. What possible reason could there be for me to own a phone that does nothing my computer can't already do?

The strength of android phones has always been their apps. GPS and Locator apps don't appeal to me - I have a GPS in my car. What about apps that back up your contacts? I do that already, and I'm not prepared to pay $400 for that convenience. I can bump my phone against yours so that they automatically exchange numbers, HA! ...really?

Enter Pandora - the one application that makes the droid phone worth it for people like me. This is an app of which music lovers - and likers - across the globe should be made aware. It's just that awesome.

For those reading this blog not yet aware of Pandora and what it does, let me explain. Pandora is essentially personalized free online radio. But Squeakers, I hate radio. You're not alone my friend. The big problem with radio today is that most stations broadcast to a fairly generalized audience, and even those catered to a more specific audience don't tend to deliver product adequate to the picky consumer's taste. That's why "personalized" is the operative word. Take me - jazz pianist and enthusiast. I defy anyone to name a great jazz station on the radio that plays the stuff I want to hear without mangling it with stuff I really don't want to hear. My experience with Pandora went as follows - I'll try not to bore you with a bunch of names, albums, and other jazz trivia that might be uninteresting to you.

After taking care of the usual user agreement and sign in procedures, I was prompted to type in a song or artist I like. I swung for the fence, and typed in my all time favorite artist Chick Corea. Pandora then created an entire line up of tracks consisting of Chick Corea's music as well as music meeting a similar criteria or performed by a similar artist. While listening, I was able to access information like Chick's bio, information on his latest album releases, recording history, other artists that he's played with, and even album reviews.

Wow, I really like the bass player on this track. Pandora says it's Stanley Clarke. I wonder what Stanley's doing these days. I click on his name, and now my radio station's parameters have changed - Pandora's now searching for music by or similar to that of Stanley Clarke. Hey, I've never heard this album, but I like this tune. Guess what - I can buy it from Pandora and format it for my itunes if I want. Don't want to buy it? That's fine, I can bookmark it or click the "I like this" button to increase the probability that I'll hear this song the next time I log in. On the other hand, if I don't like this song, I can click the "I don't like this" button - that track will never darken my doorstep again.

On the off chance that I get tired of jazz, I can create a new radio station with new parameters. Not to worry though, my Chick Corea station will remain saved in my docket so I can call it up whenever the urge strikes me. Pandora will even combine all my stations together for the ultimate playlist, just in case I happen to feel like mixing it up.

As a jazzer, it's really easy to get caught up in the older familiar stuff, and forget that there are people still innovating the music today. Since I can't exactly just up and go to New York to find out who they are, I have a hard time keeping up. But Pandora contains both the old and the new, and will find unforgettable albums from the 1940s, or an album released in 2009 by an artist just beginning his recording career. I can also rediscover old favorites like Bill Evans, or find albums of his I didn't even know existed. This doesn't only apply to me and the jazz community - anyone with any interest in their favorite artists can find the same sort of information and have the same easy access to more obscure work. If you're the kind of person that has to be up on the latest Beyonce song, or the newest Ke$ha album, Pandora is for YOU too.

But Squeakers, I can use Pandora on my computer. I don't need a Smartphone.

That's true, you CAN access Pandora from your computer. And that's great if you're at home doing dishes or doing some serious sit down listening. But what if you want to take a walk or a jog and you want something to pass the time? What if you're driving alone for an hour and a half and you need some amazing tunage to keep you from catching highway hypnosis? It'd be a drag if you had to run with an open laptop in your hands - not to mention it wouldn't make any difference if you didn't have traveling wi-fi.

Well, I have an ipod.

Okay, but what if you're tired of the same 10 CDs. I currently have 6022 songs on my ipod and even I get tired of it. Maybe there are times when I can find a record on my ipod I haven't listened to in a while, and that will satiate me for the time being, but that just isn't always the case. Pandora gives you access to a massive database that's constantly being updated with new material. If it weren't for the fact that I just like owning stuff and I like to support my favorite artists, I might never have to buy an album again. This doesn't mean your ipod is obsolete. It's very useful for what it's built for - storing and playing the music you have.

What about the ipod-touch? It'll get Pandora.

Personally, if I want a storage device, I'll get a normal ipod with good storage capacity (the storage capacity of an ipod-touch is laughable when compared to my 160 gig ipod). Conclusion: if you're thinking about an ipod-touch, you might as well get a smart phone or droid phone because the difference in price is negligible and they largely have the same capabilities - except that the ipod-touch won't make phone calls so far as I know.

Think about your grandparents. It took my family years to convince my grandma to even buy a microwave. A MICROWAVE! Some houses have those already built in! Yet, she wants to stay in contact with her family, right? Why a smartphone? PANDORA! Grandma loves the Glenn Miller Orchestra. She can make a Glenn Miller Station, where she'll hear some of her favorites like "In The Mood," "Pennsylvania 6-5000," "The Chattanooga Choo-Choo," and many more. Pandora will refer her to similar bands, like Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Band. Who doesn't love Frank Sinatra? And Pandora is WAY easier to use than a microwave. A couple sit down lessons from her favorite grandson, and she'll never want for her favorite music again. Plus, she'll have ready access to pictures of the new baby, a cheap calling plan (if you're smart and go prepaid), and maybe a chance to revisit her poker and blackjack days.

Best of all, it's free. Not like 'free but you have to pay for the shipping' free. FREE!

Now what's the catch, you ask? Pandora is free radio, meaning you can't play a particular song on demand, and you'll only here selections from a designated artist 4 times in any given hour. This is why Pandora is free, and considering all the things I get for my 0 dollars... Well let's just say I'm not losing any sleep over it.

Combine this exceedingly awesome app with a droid phone on a $25 rate plan from Virgin Mobile (less than half of what I'd pay with one of the Big 4 contract companies) and I'm sold.

If you have questions or comments... well you know what to do!

No comments:

Post a Comment