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Pandora Internet Radio

Pandora Internet Radio

A love of music and computer science brought this mega business to fruition.

What they do:
Offers personalized internet radio service based on customers’ individual musical tastes.

Tim Westergren used his computer skills and a love of music to create software that scientifically maps a song’s musical qualities.

About the business:
Musician-analysts catalog songs by 400 attributes. Web listeners type in the names of their favorites and software selects other music with similar characteristics. Revenue over $20 million.

After studying composition and computer science at college, Tim Westergren kicked around playing keyboards in rock bands and writing music. But in the year 2000, he did something different.

Westergren created what he called the Music Genome Project. It’s a quasi-scientific way to map songs musical qualities. Kind of like musical DNA.

He then created software that could automatically recommend musical selections based on a listeners personal taste. By 2004, Westergren was ready to launch Pandora.com.

Users simply typed in a favorite song or artist and the software played music with the same musical characteristics.

Today, Pandora employs 50 musician-analysts who listen to different music all day long and describe each song by 400 attributes — things like melody, harmony and rhythm.

And the listeners? Well, they just sit back and listen to songs that have been personally selected for their musical taste. They’ve already cataloged nearly one-million songs!

It’s a never ending job.

Pandora itself is singing a happy tune. Recent revenues, mostly from advertising, topped $20 million. And the innovation continues. The company has now gone beyond computer internet and created new applications for i-Phones, Androids and Blackberries.

Tim Westergren, 42, exemplifies one of our Why Didn’t’ I Think of That? Axioms – Apply New Technology to an Existing Product.

Pandora.com – Radio that plays only music you like.

Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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