Pandora.com is quite a nice web application. If you’re not familiar with Internet Radio, it’s a way to stream music to your computer according to may want to listen to, without having to create mixes of music on your own. Most of the time, there’s no audio advertising, which was one upside to mixing your own music.

Pandora is different from other Internet Radio stations in that you’re not locked into what the stream owners play (much like how FM radio runs), but you can actually rate which songs you like or don’t like.

You start out creating a station by selecting a specific song or artist you like, and Pandora branches out and tries to find music similar to that. Only, a lot of the time, it branches out too far and ends up playing music that you don’t really want to hear. It’s at this point that most people wander away with the idea that “Pandora sucks”.

It doesn’t. The general idea of Pandora is to use it to explore all kinds of music, but many times, you just want a specific kind of music. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Basically, you have to actively give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating on a good many songs before you start getting very consistent results. If you give no rating at all, Pandora will keep playing songs that branch further and further away to what you may have originally wanted.For example, I wanted to make a station with Irish rock music, with Flogging Molly being the seed artist. If I left it alone for a while, it would start getting into Johnny Cash and random Country music. Go figure. Once I started giving a “thumbs down” to that kind of music (even if it *was* good music), I got back on track to playing just Irish rock.
  2. Be critical of your “I like/don’t like” ratings. If you want a particular sound for a station, give it a thumbs up or thumbs down according to what you want for that particular station–NOT if you like the song in general. If you like the song enough, create a new station with that song as the seed (click on the album art, and to the right of “New Station:” click either “From song” or “From artist.”).If you don’t stick to a theme, your station will become mishmash of different kinds of music. Personally, I like to keep lists of different kinds of music depending on my mood and what I want to listen to
  3. Add additional seed songs or artists. That usually helps when trying to keep to a certain kind of music on a station. To do this, click the down arrow on the station name, and click “edit this station”. Hit the “Add” buttons under Artist or Song.
  4. Once you click on the Pandora player to give it focus, you can use keyboard shortcuts ( http://blog.pandora.com/faq/#224 ) to control your station, so you don’t always have to fiddle with the interface while doing other things.

If you follow these tips, you will certainly find that you’re listening to more music that you like, and in the end, enjoy Pandora’s offerings a bit more. Happy listening!