In about a month, every iPhone and iPad on Earth will suddenly gain the ability to stream an unlimited number of tracks for free, thanks to iTunes Radio.
For people who want more granular control over their music even when it’s streaming, iTunes Radio isn’t likely to tear them away from the likes of Spotify and Rdio, but if all you want to do is hear new jams without thinking about it, iTunes Radio is a killer feature that could potentially get you to cancel your service.
So Spotify, at least, is acting defensively. They’re rolling out a new feature called Expert Playlists. And it’s potentially way better than iTunes Radio.
Here’s the deal. The way iTunes Radio works is by algorithm. It examines your music library, and then a computer ‘listens’ to all the songs there and tries to figure out what kind of waveforms you like. It then examines other waveforms in Apple’s library of songs and recommends the most similar ones.
Easy-peasy. This is the same way that Spotify and Rdio’s radio functions work, for the record. But some companies, like Pandora, claim that having machines recommend music this way removes the human touch. So what Spotify is doing with Expert Playlists is introducing the human element back into the equation.
Starting to rollout now, Expert Playlists can be found under Spotify’s new Browse page and will offer playlists handpicked by experts for different moods and situations. For example, Music For Parties! Music To Make Love By! Music For Getting Dumped! Music For Feeling The Burn! and so on.
Not a bad new feature, although as usual, I wonder what ‘experts’ means. Spotify already lets me just search other people’s playlists. What makes one playlist written by an expert, and another by just some prole?