I Admire the Simplicity of Pandora

Pandora music logo

Pandora, which seemed to be all the rage a decade ago, has taken a backseat to Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. And with good reason – those are complete music library replacements, you can listen to anything, anytime, anywhere, even offline. Heck, Pandora even has their own competitor in the space called Pandora Premium (formerly Rdio).

But I still love good old Pandora Radio. You just turn it on and it plays. No choices, no setting up, no downloading or configuring. It even works for your most played stations offline now too. Every once in a while I think about canceling my subscription, and then I step back and realize just how often we use it – in the car, while cooking and doing the dishes, to help the baby fall asleep, or in the background when we have guests over.

Underlying this extraordinarily simple product is the incredibly sophisticated music genome project, which in my experience still does a better job than the competition because of it’s absurd depth:

Our team of trained musicologists has been listening to music across all genres and decades, including emerging artists and new releases, studying and collecting musical details on every track– 450 musical attributes altogether. The result of all our work is a personalized listening experience filled with both old favorites and new discoveries.

As a business Pandora has been in trouble for a while, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re acquired by one of the larger players at some point. Regardless of their future fate, I very much admire and appreciate the art form of simplifying down a sophisticated underlying technology so that the user experience is so simple and intuitive that anyone can figure it out.