VPN for Pandora
Pandora opens new worlds
In Greek mythology, Pandora was a young woman with a devastatingly uncontrollable curiosity. Warned not to touch a particular box, she was unable to resist taking “just a quick peek” and, as a result, she released all the evils into the world, only managing to slam the box shut on Hope.
Pandora radio was groundbreaking: when you sign up, you have a choice of listening to radio stations created by other listeners, preset stations, or creating your own radio station based on content. These show up down the left side of the panel as buttons labelled with the name of the stations.
They are generated by plugging in your favourite tune or artist into the search bar and Pandora retrieves content based on an analysis of your entry. It’s kind of like the “I’m feeling lucky” choice on Google actually working instead of being confronted with a long list of links that may or may not even be relevant once you go and check them yourself.
For the purposes of this article, searching “Straight No Chaser” brought up an alternate, the a cappella group Pentatonix covering “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Information about the artist and track, similar artists, perhaps the lyrics, and an analysis of the music itself is provided: “…features electronica influences, r & b influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, heavy use of vocal harmonies and interweaving vocal harmony.” At the top of the screen, there are thumb-up/thumb-down icons.
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Thumb it up and that increases its value in the search algorithm. Thumb it down and that song will never be played again and its attributes drop down in the search algorithm. The next song is “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by Straight No Chaser and again, an analysis is provided: “…similar modern r&b stylings, mild rhythmic syncopation, heavy use of vocal harmonies, acoustic sonority and call and answer vocal harmony (antiphony)”.
The search doesn’t have to be on specific genres or tracks: curious about music in other countries? Search on “Arabic” to find music that features “electronica roots, heavy use of samples, four-on-the-floor beats, middle eastern influences and meter complexity” or “Russell Peters” for comedy, and so on. Switching stations is as simple as clicking on the button and it’s an instant switch – no page loading or waiting for the stream to buffer (assuming, of course, the connection is a good one).
After that, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning the selection until it’s nothing but music you will be guaranteed to enjoy. Having invested a good amount of time fine-tuning one’s personal radio stations, naturally Pandora, citing licensing issues, was slammed shut to those not living in the United States (including military personnel serving abroad who pulled their internet direct from the base), Australia, or New Zealand!
Thankfully, Hope was still in the box in the form of Virtual Private Networking. Using a VPN allows your computer to log into an American, Australian, or Kiwi server (pick the one that’s geographically closest) and voila – the box is once again open and Pandora is fully available! It’s strongly recommended to subscribe to the paid service, Pandora One: $3.99USD, which can be paid through PayPal, gets rid of the nuisance ads that support the basic (free) service and expands the available content.