For those of you who still haven’t heard of Pandora, it’s an online website that allows you to stream music for free. Unlike other music streaming services, Pandora isn’t built on the idea that you should be able to freely add whatever songs to a playlist for leisure listening. Instead, the service is all about finding songs and artists that are similar to your current tastes.
Pandora manages to accomplish this using the Music Genome Project, which analyzes music with the help of actual musicians to form a database that can compare and contrast music at a fundamental level. All this to say, if you type in a song or artist, Pandora will constantly stream songs that are similar to it.
Over time, however, Pandora’s flaws do start to become noticeable. While we have an article on cool things you can do with Pandora, this post will focus on external tools that make Pandora more accessible and more convenient for the average user.
Elpis is my most favorite Pandora-related application. In Greek mythology, Pandora opened her box and released evil unto the world, but one thing remained in that box: the Greek god of hope, Elpis. Having used this program for a few months now, I can confidently say that Elpis has restored my hope in Pandora.
In short, Elpis is a standalone desktop program that connects to your Pandora account and streams your stations. With it, you can add new stations, delete old ones, control it using remote media keys (if you have them), thumbs up and thumbs down, and more. Super bonus: it’s entirely free and open source.
It always irked me that I had to have my browser open to listen to Pandora, mostly because of the wasted screen/tab estate. It’s a small complaint, sure, but Elpis is just so convenient that it might be the best Pandora-related program out there. Period.
PRadio (which I assume is a squishing together of Pandora Radio) is a Windows 8 app that integrates the goodness of Pandora straight into the new operating system. With it, you can play songs and view stations using Windows 8’s Modern UI. The integration is actually pretty handy since you can pin certain stations for direct access.
Some people believe that Windows 8 is still missing a few necessary features and others are saying that Windows 8 didn’t live up to its expectations, but I know a lot of people who have already made the switch. If you’re one of those people and you love listening to Pandora, then PRadio might be the app that improves your quality of listen – even if by just a little bit.
Maybe you don’t mind listening to Pandora in a browser (maybe your browser is open 24/7 already), but there are some quirks of the web-based interface that you don’t like. If you use Chrome, there’s an answer for you: Anesidora. It’s a Chrome extension that allows you to play Pandora without dedicating a tab.
Anesidora is a simple browser dropdown that comes complete with play controls. It uses fewer system resources than Flash or HTML5, so it’s preferable on slower machines (e.g., netbooks). It’s not an official Chrome extension, possibly due to copyright concerns and other issues, so you’ll need to download and install Anesidora off the official site.
For a more complete review, check out Aaron’s Anesidora overview.
FindThatBand is a browser extension available on Chrome and Firefox. It’s not exactly specific to Pandora, but it’s definitely useful in connection with Pandora. Basically, whenever you come across a song or artist while browsing the web, you can highlight the term, right click, and use FindThatBand to learn more.
So, for example, if you came across Britney Spears on the web and you highlighted her name, you could right click and select “Find on Pandora” to immediately start a new station for Britney Spears. This is really useful if you come across a song or artist and you want more music that’s similar to that one.
Pandora is a great service that played its part in pioneering online radio for the masses. It may not be as pick-and-choose as other services that are now available, but I like it for what it is. If you like Pandora but you’re looking for something that will add a dash of spice, try one of the tools listed above. They all make Pandora just a little more convenient for everyday use.