If you are an old geezer like me and want to find new music that youngsters listen to, here's how:

  • Open Pandora on your browser or app
  • Create a new station (if you're on your smartphone)
  • Pick a letter (let's use ‘h' for this example)
  • Pandora will give you a list of matching musicians
  • Pick the first name you don't recognize and make a station out of it

Why the first unrecognized name?  Since Pandora is more popular for young people than old, the music that appears first is geared for a younger audience.  For the above example, I created a station for the Hollywood Undead.  I had never heard of them, but I find their music enjoyable as well as the music that Pandora selected that is similar to Hollywood Undead's style.

How is Pandora so good at what it does?  Pandora is based on the Music Genome Project, which is an almost decade-long collection of music analysis.  Trained music analysts pinpoint up to 400 different attributes to each song in the Project.  The selection process seems intense:  they really want the best of the best in music analysis.  The beauty of Pandora's algorithm to determine what a listener likes is that the math is based on human measurement to begin with. 

Since it's humans that make Pandora run, I do notice a few things that can be attributed to human influence.  First, I notice a lot of overlap between stations.  Sometimes two different stations are playing the same music.  Pandora claims to have a ton of music available, so why is this happening?  Second, I wonder if the Pandora music analysts that are picking and analyzing music are just not fired up about all the genres of music available, especially classical music.  When they ask what attributes I like in classical music, the list of possible choices is much smaller than in a more popular station.  Why is that?

Still, I prefer Pandora over other ways of listening to music.  If you haven't tried Pandora for yourself, give it a shot and do something new.  It could be replacing the radio in your car sooner than you think.

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx, located in Austin, TX.