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October 21, 2006


JG Smeaton

I like Pandora but personally I prefer last.fm as a service because it bases its recommendations on all the music I've listened to since I signed up. It even allows you to remove certain tracks that you want it to ignore if your sister listened to some rubbish on your computer or something.

I only just signed up here but I've been reading this blog for a while and I find it really useful and interesting (I'm on a Digital Art and Technology course in the UK). So thanks :)


Hi, I'm the CTO @ Pandora and I thought I'd chime in with a little bit about the rational for the skip limits.

The radio-style licensing terms offered to Internet Radio operators like Pandora are carefully constructed to ensure that radio services are discovery-oriented. The US copyright law grant us a radio license at a relatively low price point because radio listenership verifiably leads to increased music sales. Just to put a fine point on it, the expectation is that radio is a way to FIND music, not a way to AVOID BUYING tracks and albums. What's great about this is that's exactly why we created Pandora in the first place: to help connect an appreciative audience with artists they wouldn't otherwise hear.

Ok, so what does this have to do with a skip limit? As you point out, having to listen to a song you don't want to hear is in many ways a barrier to discovery.

Well, the perspective of the copyright holders is that allowing the user an indefinite number of skips would effectively turn radio into a song-on-demand service. Without a skip limit, you could tune into a station that plays the right sort of music and then skip enough times so you get to exactly the song you want to hear. For example, imagine you could skip through songs on your favorite FM radio station. How long would it take to get to the particular hit-of-the-month that you wanted to hear? Not long I bet. That's what they don't want. If you want to hear a particular song RIGHT NOW, the copyright holders expect you to buy the track or album. Any service with a track-on-demand element comes at a fantastically more expensive price point from a licensing standpoint. Terms that lead to an end-user price of about $10/month. Could Pandora offer a service without a skip limit? Sure, but it would be a subscription-only service and it would cost more than $100 a year. That's a price point that would cut out all but the most passionate music aficionados. We wanted to create a service for everyone.

Is it frustrating to have to listen to a song you don't like on Pandora? Yes and frankly that's why we spend day and night working on algorithms that will play exclusively music you love. We've got a way to go, but believe me we're not done yet. In the meantime you can skip six times per hour when we get things wrong.

Thanks for listening,

CTO @ Pandora

PS: If you want to use Pandora in a "discovery only" mode, try Backstage at Pandora (http://www.pandora.com/backstage). Every artist, album, and song page includes recommendations. You can "skip around" for hours getting recommendations and hearing song samples (but not full tracks) without any limits.

Andrew Fairley

There's a workaround for not being able to skip songs - If you're listening to station A and you can't skip the current song, you can switch to station B, then immediately back to station A and it will go to the next song.

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Nova's Trip to Edge of Space

  • Stepsedgestratosphere
    In 1999 I flew to the edge of space with the Russian air force, with Space Adventures. I made it to an altitude of just under 100,000 feet and flew at Mach 3 in a Mig-25 piloted by one of Russia's best test-pilots. These pics were taken by Space Adventures from similar flights to mine. I didn't take digital stills -- I got the whole flight on digital video, which was featured on the Discovery Channel.

Nova & Friends, Training For Space...

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    In 1999 I was invited to Russia as a guest of the Russian Space Agency to participate in zero-gravity training on an Ilyushin-76 parabolic flight training aircraft. It was really fun!!!! Among other people on that adventure were Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize and Zero-G Corporation), Bijal Trivedi (a good friend of mine, science journalist), and "Lord British" (creator of the Ultima games). Here are some pictures from that trip...


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