This is largely the era in which we are at where instead of listening to music through tapes, CDs, and MP3s, we are streaming thanks to the various streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. Launched in the year 2005, Pandora has competently pioneered the style of music recommendation service which has grown to become one of the biggest trends in the contemporary music.
Pandora Pioneers Streaming
In 2000, the Music Genome Project was founded to help in capturing the essence of music at its most fundamental level. Pandora happens to be the custodian of this project and assigns up to 450 musical characteristics per song based on the genre. For instance, rap is assigned 350, rock and pop 150, jazz 400, while the other genres including classical are assigned up to 450. The characteristics assigned include aspects such as hard rock roots, mixed minor and major key tonality, unique instrumentation, dirty organ riff, epic buildup/breakdown, subtle use of strings, groove-based composition, melodic songwriting, tonal harmony, highly synthetic sonority and everything else that you could possibly think of.
The characteristics are normally assigned by human analysts who at any one time are coding songs. The output for this human analytical team is about 10,000 songs per month. The information is then fed to an algorithm which permits the user the ability to listen to songs which resemble a given song, artist or album.
Availability of Music Globally
This technology has introduced hundreds of thousands or even millions of listeners to several bands across the world as well as opening up a wide range of previously unavailable listening experiences. Every system comes with its own criticisms and Pandora has received its fair share. The critics are of the opinion that the recommendation engine together with its degree of homogeneity, are not living up to the expectations of the 21st century.
Despite the criticism, the popularity of Pandora has increased immensely and in April, 2013, the service had 200 million users. Much of the revenue this service earns comes from the ads which are placed on the service and listeners hear in between songs. Pandora also offers an advert-free premium plan.
The rise to prominence of Pandora was not an easy feat; the service is meant to allow listeners to hear music from lots of artists without even buying a single album. As you know, in the music world, this can be controversial. Together with the other music streaming services, Pandora has faced constant battles over loyalties to artists.
Today, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and iTune Radio are among the biggest online music streaming services in America. Artists are on the constant push to ensure their music is adequately rewarded over these platforms especially after a report came out that Pandora pays $0.0012 per play to record labels while artists get only $0.0002 per play. This simply means that a million plays only earn the artists $200.
A Win for Listening Experience
Online streaming has been criticized also for destroying the music industry by allowing listeners to access music for almost for free with the likes of Spotify only charging $10 a month for premium subscriptions. Album sales are tanking and CDs are slowly exiting the scene. YouTube is also coming into the scene and artists like Jay-Z have launched their own streaming services.
Listeners are the biggest gainers of the online streaming services because they can access lots of music within a few seconds and this is extremely appealing to a large variety of listeners from the most committed to the casual. According to statistics, online streaming has greatly reduced music piracy by a whopping 80%.
The fact that the online streaming service doesn’t require you to have terabytes of hard drive space in order to store your music, but rather you can stream directly from the cl9ud and download only a handful of albums is a good thing.