Home Pandora Turns 5 Years Old – Thanks for All the Music!

Pandora Turns 5 Years Old – Thanks for All the Music!

Free streaming music recommendation service Pandora Radio will turn 5 years old this week, and it’s hard to think of very many social web technologies that have touched more peoples’ lives. On August 29th, 2005, Pandora opened from private beta to the public with a feature-set much like what it has today.

YouTube was just six months old at the time, Facebook was just opening up to high school students and Twitter didn’t launch for almost another year. With 48 million users today, Pandora is smaller than all of those services – but if you’re among those people, you probably feel a strong bond with the company that’s brought you hours of free and new music. You may have moved on to other music services, but I’ll bet you’ve got some happy memories associated with Pandora. I know I do.

Pandora Radio has faced many challengers over the years and new ones continue to launch. (Even Microsoft said

it would build its own challenger

, more than a year ago.) The company also came close to death, it said, when per-song licensing fees set by the federal government were raised to a level Pandora felt were unsustainable. The company

mobilized its users

thanks to Twitter and Facebook and eventually lower rates were negotiated. (Claire Cain Miller wrote

a great profile of Pandora

and its history this Spring in the New York Times.)

Things have changed in recent years, and a service that chooses songs to play for you isn’t what everyone is looking for. Other services that allow you to assemble your own playlist (like MOG, for example) and share them with friends (like Spotify) better fit some peoples’ needs.

Pandora represented a number of technology trends that defined the era, though. It crunched data using its Music Genome Project and it offered user recommendations. It let users curate content and share their stations. (Here’s mine.) And when Pandora’s iPhone and Android apps launched, that made free streaming music on the go a reality. I remember being amazed when I first discovered Pandora on my iPhone. Weren’t you?

The company is now nicely profitable and will presumably proceed well into the future. It will keep on rocking. Playlists and feature-sets aside, when you’re looking for music to listen to and you’ve got a mood in mind more than a particular artist – Pandora is still a great way to be entertained still.

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