Pandora Overhauls Its Basic ‘Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down’ Recommendation Algorithms

Pandora’s newly debuted ‘Modes’ feature is aimed at offering more options and better control over recommendations.

A departure from the traditional ‘Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down’ recommendation system, the six new listening ‘modes’ still take user preferences into account while offering a wider range of ways to enjoy those preferences.

Pandora, now owned by Sirius XM, says the changes are focused around new trends in music usage.  The result is a more customized recommendation engine, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

The first Pandora Mode is titled ‘My Station’ and works off of the original Pandora algorithm, while the second one, ‘Crowd Faves,’ gives preference to the songs with the most thumbs up from listeners in the station.  ‘Deep Cuts’ is intended to dive into the catalog of a particular station’s artist or genre, while ‘Discovery’ pulls in artists who wouldn’t usually play on that station.

The last two, ‘Newly Released’ and ‘Artist Only,’ are a little more selective, with the first only grabbing an artist or genre’s newest songs, and the second focusing entirely on one artist’s catalog.

While Pandora’s system has always offered user-driven music curation, this shift allows for different experiences, without the risk of losing a user’s original preferences.

Much like the the classic Pandora experience, interactions with the different Pandora Modes helps to inform the next set of recommended songs.  But the resulting playlists are now tweaked into various different directions.

The new feature is available on most Pandora stations, and can be found by going to an old station or creating a new one and selecting ‘Now Playing’.  All Pandora Modes available for the selected station will be listed beneath the station name.

This shift in the system follows several other changes to Pandora’s platform-based content consumption methods.  That includes the Stories tool, which merges podcasts and music, allowing for new storytelling options and formats.

Pandora’s new Modes service, launched on March 19th, is available to free and premium users across every tier of the service.