Pandora, or any form of Internet Radio, is typically seen as a technological advancement in the music industry. No longer are we chained to the voiceless listening of FM radio. We as listeners now have the ability to create our own stations and personalize them by skipping and “liking” certain songs. Technology has enabled us to stream the music we want, when we want, where we want.
The issue with this is the “technology” part. Is technology really the reason we listen to Pandora? We like Pandora because it plays similar songs based on the songs we already enjoy. When I create a Red Hot Chili Peppers Pandora station, I can hear all kinds of songs that are complementary to RHCP music that I am sure to like as well. My research has shown that technology is not responsible for this, though. People are. Pandora’s employees listen to every song that ends up on Pandora and breaks them down into nearly 400 different components. By identifying songs’ melody, lyrics, algorithms, and speed, Pandora’s employees can couple like songs based on these various factors. This is significant because the technology is really minimal; the only things that humans don’t do is play and skip the song while someone is listening. No one would assume that Internet Radio is so humanized!
I’ve formulated the thesis: Pandora is a form of technology, but it is not computerized.
Pandora is not computerized in that it is humanized. Humans have control over everything at Pandora. No song ends up on Pandora without it being heard by a Pandora employee; they are the ones to decide what music should be included on each station and why. Just because Pandora is not technological independent, though, does not mean it is not still a form of technology. We would not be able to access Pandora in a world without technology. Pandora also, like any other form of technology, has glitches and buffers. Pandora’s employees are not present when I hit the “thumbs down” button on a song and it finds another song to play: that is the technology. The technology is simply controlled by humans