open pandora’s box and out pops….neutral milk hotel?

so the title of this post might need a little explaining. for those of you who don’t know what pandora is, it is an internet music site that is an outgrowth of the music genome project. pandora seeks to connect listeners with music that they will like but don’t know yet. it handles this daunting task much different from other recommendation sites though. most sites like or use the listener’s rating of music or listening habits and churn it through an algorithm that compares it with people of similar taste to find recommendations.

pandora works much different. an actual human being listens to every piece of music submitted to the system for more than a half an hour and categorizes it along 400 different musical categories. the end user can then pick a song or an artist and pandora looks for other songs or artists that have been categorized similarly. thus the name “music genome” since that is what the categories strive to create; the genome of a song. listening to pandora helped me discover the now defunct folk-rock combo neutral milk hotel, which has been a staple of my ipod ever since.

well what does this have to do with atlanta you ask? stick around after the jump and i’ll tell you.

music genome project and pandora founder, tim westergren will be in atlanta next thursday hosting a meet-up and sharing his story with atlanta users and also taking questions and suggestions about the site.

i spent some time talking with tim about his trip to atlanta; what users can expect and what he is doing holding them.

“it kinda started by accident.” says tim. he was traveling around looking for new music to put into the project, talking with local music fans and journalists, when someone in his office suggested he hold a meet-up.

“i posted it on the blog and maybe a few people showed up,” says tim, “but we kept holding them wherever i went and now its not uncommon for more than 200 people to show up.”

that first forum was in manhattan back in the beginning of 2006 and since then they have grown into an invaluable group forum where listeners have the opportunity to give feedback, brainstorm ideas fort the site and discuss what they like and don’t like.

“it’s a great chance to ask all of the burning questions you have,’ tim says. almost all of the features that have been added to the pandora radio player have come out of these group meet-ups.

and if you are not a hip, indie-rock cool kid, don’t worry. according to tim, pandora get listeners of all stripes and sizes, who listen to everything; from blues to country.

“it’s hard to categorize the people coming to the meet-ups,” says tim. “we’re getting young people who are new to music and the site as well as older people.”

so you should definitely check this out; young or old, indie or country. i’ll be there. i am a huge fan of pandora and after spending some time talking to it’s founder i can’t wait to hear what he has to say in person.

event details are as follows:

defoor centre, forum gallery
1710 defoor ave nw, atlanta
thursday, february 22nd @ 9:00 PM
rsvp by sending email to

make sure you rsvp so the get you on the list.

9 Comments so far

  1. George Burdell (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 11:28 am

    Good story, but I’m sad to say I was expecting something about the miraculous comeback of NMH, touting their first live show in 10 years at the masquerade…I guess one can still dream.

  2. james (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

    would that it were so, george. but you should definitely come hear tim. he has a great story; i really enjoyed my conversation with him.

  3. fatasianbaby (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

    damn. i kept waiting for the part where you said that jeff mangum would be dropping by from outer space.
    are you going to any of the devil stole the beat showcases?

  4. james (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

    friday night – how i became the bomb – ‘fat girls talking ’bout cardio,’ oh yes, i will not miss that.

  5. fatasianbaby (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

    i’m so pumped. way back in september or october i decided to put them on the cover of the magazine which has pretty much turned out to be the best decision ever.
    though i also put manchester on in june. that was ok.

  6. Tim (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

    I was able to catch Tim Westergren at a meetup in Durham, NC not too long ago. Definitely worth it. Tim does a great job and will stay to answer any questions you have. If you want to enhance your Pandora experience let me recommend where we are sharing the stations we’ve created.

  7. james (unregistered) on February 14th, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

    uh yeah, fab, i would say that was okay. you can pick ’em.

    thanks for the tip tim, am looking forward to hearing the other tim.

  8. Annie (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 8:37 am

    Like George, I about flipped over the NMH possibilities. Great post, though, despite my initial disappointment. :-)

  9. james (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 8:59 am

    sorry, annie. i was in north central ohio at college when nmh was touring down here and NEVER heard of them.

    maybe a where are they now post….i’ll think about it….

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