The online music recommendation service Pandora is really cool in all ways but one. Due to what they report as a requirement of their music license the user is only allowed to skip a small number of songs per hour. This can be a problem since the whole point of Pandora is that you give it feedback as it plays songs for you and it learns what you like. If you’re like me and you rate a bunch of songs and quickly skip ahead to keep rating more of them (while avoiding the songs you don’t like), then Pandora’s present rule is a bit frustrating. (Note: a workaround was suggested by a reader below — but it’s still kind of a pain.) (Note 2: See the extensive and informative comments added by CTO of Pandora, below, as well).
After you hit your skip-limit you have no choice but to sit through the songs you don’t like because you can’t skip them. Eventually the count is reset and you can start skipping again. This is an odd limitation and I can’t quite understand why it makes sense for Pandora or the music companies — it would seem that the more music a user listens to and rates the greater the chance they will buy something, which is how both Pandora and the record companies make money. So they should be encouraging all forms of use — including skipping songs to find other songs you like. At least when users skip songs they still stay in the site — if they are forced to sit through songs they don’t like they are more likely to leave.
If it weren’t for this one frustrating limitation I would really use Pandora all the time to discover and buy new music. There is one more feature of Pandora that I would like — a way to pop the client into a small floating window, or even a desktop client so I don’t have to keep my browser sitting there all the time.
I’ve already used Pandora to discover and buy music — and I would use it even more if the above issues were solved in later versions. However, even with these limitations it is still one of the best and most enjoyable ways to discover new music that matches your interests. I think the potential of this app (and the Music Genome Project, that it’s based on) is huge, and I can’t wait for future versions.