What it is: Pandora is an online radio service that aims to help listeners discover new music. It creates custom stations based on a user's specific music preferences. At Pandora.com, a user enters the name of a favorite band, and Pandora then identifies specific traits -- melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement and lyrics -- associated with that band and generates a playlist of other bands and songs that share similar traits.
An example, please? When MediaWorks entered "The Postal Service," Pandora identified the band as having the following characteristics -- electronic influences, subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation among other traits. Who knew? It then generated a station playing bands such as Wilco, Doris Hensen and Depeche Mode.
Who's behind it: It's powered by the Music Genome Project, a comprehensive music analysis launched in 2000. It was behind the scenes for awhile, powering AOL Radio's new music discovery and Best Buy's new music kiosks. Last year, the group decided to build a consumer-facing product with a $36-a-year subscription price. Last November it launched for free with ad support.
Who's using it: Listener-wise, it tends to skew younger -- the 18-to-34 demo -- and slightly male. Since November, more than 1.8 million listeners have registered and it's growing at a rate of 300,000 to 400,000 people a month.
Advertisers: Apple and Verizon were early advertisers and Honda just launched a site takeover and created several custom radio stations to reflect specific personalities. Cheryl Lucanegro, VP-ad sales, said the site has a unique advertising method. "If you're just leaning back and listening and not looking at the site, we're not refreshing the ads," she said. "We're only charging when a listener is leaning forward and interacting with the site."