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Why Pandora Blows Apple's iTunes Radio Away

Stocks in this article: P AAPL

During this conversation about the Beatles, I mentioned something about the Pandora experience that makes me anxious.

There are times when I'm not sure what to do with a particular song or artist. Pandora serves something up that I don't want to hear in the moment. But I like the song. I don't want to thumb it down. And I don't want to skip it, out of fear the MGP will look negatively upon my decision and not give me the artist or song in question ever again. And, for the same reasons, I don't want to tell Pandora -- on its desktop platform -- to give the song a rest for a while.

So what do I do?

Funny thing is -- Bieschke and his team of music analysts sweat over the same stuff. Only in reverse. Seems small, but to these guys it's not. It's what they live and breathe.

Maybe you have been listening to the Beatles station for weeks now. And you love that Pandora routinely includes deep cuts from the Byrds on it. You have been thumbing up songs from the Byrds ever since you got hooked on your Beatles station. But then, suddenly, you start thumbing them down. Or skipping them. Or closing your app. Or not coming back for uncharacteristically prolonged periods of time.

Do you not like The Byrds anymore? Are you just sick of hearing them? Or is it about the song selection? Maybe some solo David Crosby would work well for you. Or maybe you just need a break. Or maybe not. These conundrums consume every fiber of Bieschke's being.

Pandora uses large aggregate samples to answer these types of questions, but it's not as if Bieschke ever really considers any outcome definitive. He's always thinking, tweaking and conceiving ways to do a better job figuring out what you want to hear and when you want to hear it.

Breaking Bands

When Apple's Eddy Cue says "It's the quality of the stations. The question -- and what the ability that we have that I felt was unique ... that we could have a radio station that played songs that you would really like," you really cannot classify him as anything but delusional.

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