Column by PC Magazine: Out of Pandora's Box
Pandora is an online music service that lets you build your own stations based on similarities among songs and artists. You start with the name of a song or a favorite artist, and it streams music by that artist and others that are similar. It determines similarities by consulting the Music Genome Project, a database that contains hundreds of descriptors or "genes" that make up a song—melody, harmony, rhythm, kind of accompaniment, lyrics, subject matter, modality, and more, instead of the vast imprecision of genre.
Pandora's descriptions come from a team of 35 analysts, who have listened to and analyzed all the 400,000 or so songs that so far are in the Music Genome database. Prospective analysts take a test to get the job, and only 20 percent pass. They then receive rigorous training, and their analysis is continually monitored and cross-checked by other analysts.