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A Day in the Life of a Music Analyst


A Day in the Life of a Music Analyst


An interview with Music Analyst Kevin Seal


Who are the Music Analysts at the core of the Music Genome Project, driving the best music recommendation system in the world on Pandora? We are a team of musicians who listen to songs and tag them with musicological, lyrical, genre, and mood data. Today I interviewed one of our Music Analysts, Kevin Seal, to get a sense of what a music analyst does in a day.


Kevin Seal, Music AnalystKevin Seal, Music Analyst


Camilo: I’m here with Kevin Seal, Music Analyst, and I’m interested in finding out, ‘what is a day in the life of a Music Analyst?’


Kevin: Absolutely. Well, my day starts with choosing my tracks for the day. So, depending on if I’m doing ‘scrubbing’ of old tracks that have been analyzed and improving the analysis to be consistent with our new and improved analytical traits, or choosing fresh tracks that have just been released or that are about to be released.


In my personal case, I prefer to have a wide swath of different styles and genres. I find it easier to do half an hour of Folk, half an hour of Death Metal, half an hour of Reggae, and just mixing it up stylistically a lot. If I end up with, you know, three hours of Rock, my ears get tired, so I prefer keeping a very eclectic base of music that I’m going to be looking at.


Camilo: What happens when you are done analyzing for the day, what other projects are you working on?


Kevin: I write my own music, I have a band called Seal Party, so a lot of times I’m working on arrangements for new Seal Party songs, writing horn charts, trying to finish lyrics after months of writers’ block, a lot of that. I also teach middle school choir, right now I’m at East Bay School for Boys in Berkeley, so working out performances with them, teaching them how to read music notation, that kind of stuff. And then I also am the organist for the San Jose Sharks, so many weekends I’m driving down to San Jose and playing clap prompts for the Shark Tank fans to enjoy their hockey.


Camilo: Wow, that’s a lot of musical hats you wear! How do you manage it when you are touring with your band?


Kevin: Nowadays I’m trying to use as much vacation time as I can when I’m touring. I have gone out on tours where I’ll wake up, have my continental breakfast, and then try to squeeze in a few hours of analysis time before driving to the next city, and I will be doing some of this on the upcoming tour that starts this week, but I prefer when I’m on the road to focus as much as I can on just being on the road. 


Camilo: Thanks Kevin! Keep up the good work.


-Camilo Landau, Music Analysis at Pandora

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