Some of my radio stations on Pandora tend to get a lot of long songs (e.g. over 6 minutes). However, I prefer songs in the range of 3-4 minutes.

The songs themselves are usually good and would fit well with the radio station's theme. The only problem is their length, if they were shorter, I would definitely up vote them.

I'm wondering if Pandora is smart enough to realize that when I down vote these versions of the songs, it's not because I don't want similar songs but rather because of the length of the song.

What I usually try to do, before down voting longer versions of songs, is to first up vote the short length version, and only then start down voting the longer versions. I'm hoping Pandora realizes that the only difference between an up and down vote from me is the length of the song, and will learn that I don't like long songs.

In practice, though, it seems to not work very well. I think it completely ignores the length attribute and simply stops playing songs that are similar to this one.

Furthermore, sometimes I'll never get the short version of the song so I'm not sure if I should be up voting or down voting the long versions. An up vote will cause similar songs to play (a good thing), but might cause other long versions of songs to play (a bad thing). A down vote will do the opposite.

This isn't only limited to the length of a song, it could also be: version (e.g. remix vs. original), gender (e.g. female vs. male vocals).

What's the best way to make Pandora play similar songs to these ones, but also play the shorter versions of them?

1 Answer 1


The Pandora algorithm, in an overly simplified explanation, uses a weighted system on various attributes of your music to determine what you most prefer to hear. When assessing a song on one of your stations, try to compare this specific song to all of the qualities you want your custom station to embody. If you feel this song meets a large enough number of those qualities then you should "Thumbs Up" it. Pandora then adds extra weight behind ALL of the attributes of that song (whether they were exactly what you wanted or not).

Sometimes an upbeat song is what I'm looking for, but because it's also atonal, in a minor key, has a swing rhythm, has a male voice, and harmonized backup vocals (all of which I am trying to avoid) it would be more helpful to "Thumbs Down" on this song instead. If I had done the opposite, I would now get MUCH more of those qualities in addition to the upbeat quality which I originally liked.

Over the long term, your preferred weighting will work itself out but for something as detailed as song length, I think you'll find Pandora will not be able to zero in on that attribute specifically.

(These are my unresearched observations from using Pandora over the past several years.)

  • 1
    I have noticed that one of the qualities it lists as a reason the song was chosen is something along the lines of "made for radio" or "radio format", which I believe means that it isn't an extended version of a song.
    – Senseful
    Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 22:55
  • Right. So that exists as an attribute. You just have to remember that you're up-voting ALL of the songs attributes. That was my main point.
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 3, 2010 at 14:26

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