How Pandora Creates Stations and How to Customize Them

Tips and Tricks for Creating Perfect Personalized Stations on Pandora - Part One

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The Pandora music service creates stations based on a song or artist that you like. With Pandora stations it is possible to listen to endless hours of music that you love, and which perfectly suits your mood.  

How Pandora Chooses Music

Pandora has labeled 800,000 songs for its "music genome" — that is, breaking down the musical qualities that Pandora considers its DNA. 

Examples of musical quality include: 

  • Mellow rock instrumentation, folk influences, disco influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony
  • Acoustic rock instrumentation, a subtle use of vocal harmony, acoustic rhythm piano, extensive vamping 
  • Electronica influences, rhythm-and-blues influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony, synthetic sonority 
  • Mellow rock instrumentation, a subtle use of vocal harmony, intricate melodic phrasing, minor key tonality 
  • Female lead vocals, minor key tonality, catchy hooks, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation

Each of these groupings of qualities — their music genome — relates to a different station. While a song is playing, you can find out its DNA by clicking on the menu and choosing "Why did you play this song?" or "Why this song?"  

Customizing Your Stations

Pandora provides tools to help you build stations to your liking. Depending upon your level of commitment to perfecting your station, there are a number of ways to fine tune.

 

The Tools

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down. This is the most basic tool for guiding Pandora in the direction of the kind of music you want to hear on a station. The text on this feature should read "play more — or less — of this song" instead of "I like — or don't like — this song." 

Use the Thumbs Up button while a song is playing to tell Pandora that you want to hear more songs on this station that are similar to the current song.

Conversely, use Thumbs Down to tell Pandora that the current song doesn't fit your idea of what you want in this station.

It's important to note that when you Thumbs Down a song, it only means that you don't want to hear that song on the current station. It doesn't mean that you don't want to hear the song on another station.

Add Variety. This feature is only available on the Pandora web browser player, but using it will shape the station when you listen to it on your network media player or another device.  

Click on the station and "add variety" appears below the station name. Click on it. Here you can name a song or artist — or choose from a list of Pandora's suggestions — that you want to add to the station. Pandora now searches for the additional qualities of the new artist or song. The result should be a wider variety of music.

"Add variety" is a good way to spice up a station that is becoming boring. If the resulting station isn't right, you can edit the station.

Editing the Station. Because of Pandora's licensing agreements, you cannot create a playlist of specific songs and titles to create a station. Instead, you must get creative in the way you shape the station. If your station was defined by Pandora, the station page will give you a snapshot of the seed songs and artists used to create the station.

A station can be edited either on the computer or on the iPhone app. 

Click on "options," then click on "edit station details." This will bring up your station's page. There will be a list of the "seed songs and artists" along with all of the songs you on which you clicked Thumbs Up. Here you can easily add songs and/or artists to help shape the mood of the station.  

On this page, ​you can also delete songs from the Thumbs Up list if you feel it is affecting the choice of music.

Organize Your Pandora Stations

As your list of Pandora stations gets longer, there may be a few favorites that you listen to often and want at the top of the list.

Pandora offers sorting by "date added" or "alphabetically." This doesn't help if your favorite station is "ZZ Top" and it was the first station you created. 

To re-order your stations, simply rename them using a number at the beginning — "01 ZZ Top." Continue to rename the stations with consecutive numbers so they come up in your desired order.

The Combination of Tools Creates the Perfect Pandora Station

With a little effort, you can enjoy music that moves your soul for any mood. If you are truly committed to creating your perfect Pandora station, you can use a combination of tools. There are tricks to combining the Pandora tools for optimal customization.