Pandora's music data strikes the right note for brands

Geoffrey Precourt

In the age of big data, Pandora is a giant. It has access to the music preferences of more than 200 million (and counting) registered listeners, who tune in to a combined 1.49 million hours of recordings a month.

At the heart of its offering is the Music Genome Project, or what the company calls "a deeply detailed hand-built musical taxonomy" that ascribes a musical personality to a subscriber's listening preferences. The more choices a user makes, the more detailed his or her profile becomes.

The resulting "musicological DNA" essentially enables Pandora's technicians to create a personalized digital radio station for each user. And the process of refinement continues with feedback: tell the service that you like Diana Krall's "Let's Fall in Love", and you'll likely hear it again. Ella Fitzgerald's recording of the same tune will almost certainly pop up on your playlist as well.