SXSW 2006: Day 3, The Music Genome Project

Funnest booth at the trade show this year? The well named Pandora.com, an online "music discovery service" that maps out as many musical "genes" as possible in order to help you discover more music you’ll like. "Music scout" Michael Zapruder asked me to name a band I love and proceeded to type in "The New Pornographers" for me. Out from his laptop's speakers came "From Blown Speakers." If you really like this song (duh!), you can have Pandora open her box and play more songs you may like. Or if you hate The New Pornographers, then buzz off. No, really, you can have "her" add another song or simply choose another artist and build a play list from there.

I asked what would happen if Pandora didn't recognize your entry. Zapruder asked me to think of something obscure and of course, I got performance anxiety. All I could come up with was Hap Hogan but he was a (terrible) comedian (go ahead and Google him to insure my hipster credentials). So assuming there was an indie bias, I offered freestyle goddess Trinere. Not only did she pop up but so did "How Can We Be Wrong?" her very greatest track.

But if indeed you do come up with something Pandora doesn't recognize (oooh got one—Mbilia Bel), "(she'll) check it out."

For now, you can check out the picture below which visualizes the aims of the project quite nicely—approximately 1,150 record covers exemplifying a range of musical genes.

Fun, for sure. But I cannot resist paraphrasing the great Poly Styrene: Pandora could create the perfect music/Could create an unknown life-force that could us exterminate.


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