Apple iTunes Radio: Coming Wednesday, September 18th…

The iTunes-integrated radio player will be part of a broader, iOS7 update, according to information delivered by CEO Tim Cook in Cupertino.



A number of important features were confirmed during the announcement, including:

1. iTunes Radio will be available across all iOS devices, including Apple TV and iTunes on PCs. It is part of a far broader iOS7 platform release and concommitant iTunes update.

2. iTunes Radio will imitate Pandora’s artist-driven, personalized stations, but will not be bound by the same restrictions on skipping and consecutive plays (unclear is how liberal the service usage rules will be, however).

3. iTunes Radio will also mimic Pandora’s thumbs-up/thumbs-down functionality to fine tune those stations. Thumbs up translates into “Play more songs like this” while thumbs down is the opposite (not the exact language, but you get the idea).

4. There will also be more than 300 DJ-curated and genre-focused stations to choose from.

5. Audio ads will be inserted after every 15 minutes (or so) of listening, with video ads every hour.

6. Similar to Pandora One, Pandora’s premium tier, iTunes Match subscribers will enjoy ad-free listening.

7. iTunes Radio will feature integrated download buying opportunities for every song, linked to the existing iTunes account and stored credit card.

8. Furthermore, a history of all songs played will be neatly presented, with buy links next to each track.

9. iTunes Radio will be totally Siri-enabled. That includes voice-actived station selection, song identification, station narrowing (‘play more songs like this’) as well as basic play, skip, or pause functionality. Siri will also allow users to place songs into their Wish List for later purchase.

10. Exclusives. Just like iTunes proper, iTunes Radio will have pre-release exclusives weaved into station playlists. That will almost always beat Pandora.

11. All stations will be iCloud-enabled, as well as all Wish Lists. Stations can be stopped on one device, and easily resumed on another.



Other details, not specifically mentioned in the announcement:

12. Apple has directly-licensed major label content for this service, while mostly forcing less favorable terms upon independents. But all content could enjoy upside from paid purchases.

13. The current ‘iTunes Radio’ service, which contains streams to all sorts of web-based stations, is expected to be replaced (not confirmed).



More ahead.

20 Responses

  1. Sequenz_

    Is the launch date for U.S. only? Or is it a worlwide launch date. Thanks!

    • Corey Tate -

      US only, but word on the street is that licensing is coming in other countries as negotiations are completed.

  2. Casey

    If it replaces the streaming radio directory currently in iTunes, then it is not Pandora that iRadio will hurt. It is the hundreds of stations that depends on iTunes for a sizeable if not majority chunk of their listeners.

    • Casey

      I should add that there is absolutely nothing innovative about this service. The only thing they bring to the table is integration with their own store. Being able to buy tracks by clicking a link? Pandora has had that for years as have many services. Only difference is they link you to iTunes or Amazon because they don’t operate a music store. Pandora actually takes it step further and links you to the music CD on Amazon.

      • Visitor

        iTunes didn’t replace the “Radio” feature for internet radio but changed it to “Internet”. So when they launch the new update there will be “Radio” (iRadio) and “Internet” (Internet Radio).

        I know this because I have the latest beta version of iTunes and I’ve tested iRadio for myself. Pretty cool feature.

    • Corey Tate -

      True, but a good niche station can’t be replaced by a robot. I’ll still listen to lot of others from around the world.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I can’t confirm really what happens to the existing iTunes Radio, but keeping them both could create considerable product confusion if not done correctly.

      • Casey

        Logically they would replace it. Not only to prevent confusion, but it is basically a competing service now that they have their own radio product.

  3. Artist Advocate

    One important item has been left out of the reporting about iTunes Radio – artists are going to get ripped off!

    For while iTunes Radio is (at its core) Internet radio not substantively unlike Pandora or iHeart Radio, Apple is not using the compulsory license and will not be paying royalties to SoundExchange. Instead they chose to enter into direct licenses with labels which means all of the revenue will be paid to labels and it will be labels calculating what to pay the artists. No 50% direct pay for artists. Money getting trapped in “unrecouped” accounts. NDA’s dismantling transparency.

    No thanks Apple. I’m sticking to Pandora. While Tim wants to pay artists less, AT LEAST he’s committed to them being paid directly. You can be sure artists are going to continue to see more money from Pandora than they’re going to see from iTunes Radio. Bet!

  4. Visitor

    Is this true? If so, artists will not see one penny from Apple’s sevice. All other issues aside, last year Pandora paid 60% of its revenue in royalties, which amounted to about 180M dollars. Most of which went to SX – meaning 90M should have been paid to directly to artists.

    Apple will pay the labels which means $0 in streaming royalties to artists. Why is this not news?? Can this story please be verified?

    • Artist Advocate

      It’s true. It’s been reported everywhere that Apple struck direct licenses with master owners (labels), i.e. Paul’s item references it here when he says that Apple forced unfavorable terms onto indies. If iTunes Radio was a statutory service paying SoundExchange (and therefore paying artists directly) they’d be incapable of forcing unfavorable terms onto indies. They’d be paying the statutory rate.

      Artists – many artists – will still see streaming revenue from iTunes Radio but it will be paid to them by their labels in normal accounting statements. As a normal master royalty via a direct license, there is no reason to doubt that said royalties will be subject to recoupment by labels. SoundExchange royalties are not.

      • Visitor

        “there is no reason to doubt that said royalties will be subject to recoupment by labels.”

        ..that’s cute.

      • Sammyjamz

        I think that’s the point. SoundExchange pays directly to the artists. If the label is the middleman, there is every reason to assume that streaming royalties will be withheld (credited) from unrecouped artists. I’m not suggesting anything nefarious. If the artist took an advance, then it is what it is.

        • Artist Advocate

          @Sammyjamz – I agree that labels have every right to recoup legitimate costs invested (eg. advances) but wonder if there’s more at play here. What I truly don’t like is the lack of transparency. Direct licenses obscure deal terms. Non transparent deal terms should ALWAYS worry artists. Conversely, statutory rates are public/transparent, artists and labels are paid directly and everyone can expect to get the same per stream rate.

          From what has been reported, iTunes Radio isn’t terribly different from Pandora or iHeart Radio (statutory services). That which distinguishes them wouldn’t be hard to create should Pandora or iHeart want to similarly get away from the “burden” of paying statutory rights.

          Paranoid? Maybe but I doubt it.

        • Cliff Baldwin

          Word is that AAPL is paying labels their cut and then paying pubs directly. (Plus there is a cut of the advertising flowing to rights holders according to the contract published online.) everyone I talk to seems to agree that there will be more money flowing to rights holders from iRadio than from other similar services, not less. What’s the beef here? I’m not sure I get it.

          • Kings Of Spins

            What’s required here is TRANSPARENCY from Apple.

            The use of artist’s music, nostalgic and new, as the bait from iPod to iRadio has been very very significant in the growth of Apple as a company – its time they gave Artists the financial respect for their songs/productions being used to sell, market and establish the various Apple product the world over.

            Where are the Artist Unions lawyers in these negotiations??

          • steveh

            Your argument does not really hold water, because the completely transparent 70% share that artists/labels get from iTunes sales compares favourably with what they earn from CDs.

            The mathematics would support Apple’s defence.

  5. PTSoundHound

    I’m not an Apple fan (in fact I do almost everything I can to steer clear of the ecosystem) but with decent curation, wishlists, easy “one click” purchase, voice control and cloud enabled plus millions of devices enabled straight out of the box, it seems that this will have some serious legs with consumers.

    Can’t quite get my head around which service competing service will suffer the most or whether it’ll get more people used to the idea of streaming rather than ownership though. Either way, it’ll be interesting to watch what happens next…