Imagine clicking iTunes’ “Buy” button to purchase the latest record from Drake or Pharrell Williams, only to get a popup from Apple suggesting you’re behind the times.
That’s what might happen as Apple uses its massive consumer base to push streaming music on the masses, even going so far as prompting iTunes users to switch from buying songs to subscribing to a cloud service.
That sort of mid-purchase upsell is just one possible element of Cupertino’s strategy to shake up the music industry again, and the Apple streaming music plan just might be crazy enough to work.
Apple is beefing up its iAd network for iTunes Radio by making it easy for advertisers to target certain customers. Like iAds for apps, advertisers can also buy their own audio ads without having to go through Apple’s sales team.
The change seems geared towards making advertising on iTunes Radio a more attractive opportunity, especially now that brands can use Customer Match, Apple’s ad-targeting system.
iTunes might currently be flagging compared to rivals like Spotify, but it seems that Apple has some big ideas to bolster its music services — and unlike many companies in Silicon Valley, they’re not going to be based solely on better algorithms.
In a new job posting, Apple makes clear that it wants to lead the way when it comes to specialized employees who know their music. In particular, the company is seeking an editorial producer, based in London, with a background in both music journalism and pop culture.
Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Apple is getting into the holiday spirit by activating a number of its festive-themed curated iTunes Radio stations — ranging from collections of country Christmas songs, to stations featuring the kind of Christmas standards we all know and love.
The ten stations include Children’s Christmas Holiday Sing-Along, Country Holiday, Classical Holiday, Holiday Classics, Holiday Hits, Latin Holiday, Rockin’ Holiday, Soulful Holiday, Swingin’ Holiday and The Sounds of Christmas.
Thousands of angry iPhone users have found an album they weren’t looking for: U2’s Songs of Innocence.
Instead of making the band’s mediocre new album an opt-in freebie, Apple jammed it down the throats of a half-billion iTunes Store customers, enraging some of the company’s most loyal fans. Whether they wanted the album or not, it’s now showing up as “purchased” in individuals’ iTunes libraries on their computers and phones.
When Tim Cook trotted out the Irish rockers for a limp finale to Tuesday’s big Apple Watch announcement, he called giving away the band’s new record “the largest album release of all time” — but now it looks like one of the dumbest.
iTunes Radio quickly became known as an underdog after its release last fall, with Apple facing an uphill battle against established services like Spotify and Pandora. In today’s video, we take an in-depth look at iTunes Radio, its features, its future — and why it deserves your attention.
Stroll into your local record store and you won’t find the dusty-floored wasteland of empty bins you might imagine. Chances are you’ll see something that’s more vibrant, relevant and vital than before.
Like the nerdy know-it-alls at specialty wine stores and comic book shops, today’s typical employee at an indie record store is still a tastemaking wizard — just turned up to 11. Staff picks bear the unerring zeal of the true believer, and staffers are more focused on uncovering stuff that you’ll never find on a Walmart CD shelf.
“Since there’s been a turn to Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes, we sell way more vinyl,” said Jim Haynes, assistant manager at San Francisco’s Aquarius Records. “We’re at about 75 percent vinyl to 20 percent CD and a smattering of cassettes. People are turning to an even more seemingly obsolete medium.”
Predictions of the end of physical media are as played-out as those reports about the death of rock ‘n’ roll, with everyone and their mother proclaiming that Spotify and other streaming services have killed the local record store. That fear-mongering sounds smart and might even contain a kernel of truth, but the reality is much different.
When iTunes Radio launched last spring, music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify took cover from the impending Apple invasion, but radio streaming apps like TuneIn Radio might be in Apple’s sights now as well.
Starting today iTunes Radio will feature National Public Radio as its first news channel for the audio streaming service. NPR’s channel will feature a 24-hour live stream with news, along with pre-recorded shows, but it won’t be the only news channel in the iTune Radio lineup.
iTunes Radio still has a long way to go before it catches up with Pandora’s number of subscribers, but in an effort to keep up with increasing royalty costs, Pandora announced this morning that it’s bumping up the monthly subscription price for Pandora One.
Starting in May new subscribers will have to pay $4.99 per month if they want their music stream ad free, which is still cheaper than competitors like Spotify and Rdio (both $9.99 per month).
Apple’s alternative, iTunes Radio is ad-free with $24.99 annual iTunes Match subscription, but Pandora is deciding to just drop the annual subscription option altogether.
This time ’round on The CultCast: all that we love about iOS 7.1; more rumors swirl of a 4.7 and 5.7-inch iPhone 6; an intriguing new iPod challenger gets a ton of buzz; why Flappy Bird might fly back into the App Store; 2014 brings a new MS Office; and iTunes Radio is more popular than you thought…
Guffaw your way through each week’s best Apple stories! Stream or download new and past episodes of The CultCast now on your Mac or iDevice by subscribing on iTunes, or hit play below and let the uproarious good time commence.
And thanks to Lynda.com for sponsoring this episode. Learn at your own pace from expert-taught video tutorials at Lynda.com.
iTunes Radio has barely been around for six months but after launching alongside iOS 7 in the U.S., Apple’s music streaming service has already knocked Spotify off the #3 spot among the most popular music streaming services in the country.
Internet Radio has some fierce competition. Since the launch of iTunes Radio in 2013, it became much harder to single out one service in particular that reigns supreme. Does the popular US service Pandora still have what it takes to surpass all others? Is Slacker Radio more your personal preference?
Either way, following on from last week’s column where we compared on-demand music services, we have taken it upon ourselves to narrow down the competition, including iTunes Radio, Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, Last.fm and TuneIn Radio; see the table below. We’ve also done some hands-on testing and in-depth research in order to determine just who has the leading edge and what they offer in terms of functionality, catalog size, features and usability.
Ever wished there was a way to make Pandora (or iTunes Radio) play little snippets of news, tailored to your tastes, just like it does with music? Free app Swell Radio does just that, and does it perfectly.
Joining the likes of iTunes Radio, Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio, Beats Music — the music subscription service spearheaded by Jimmy Iovine — launches today, 21 January.
Combining human curation from “the best music experts” to algorithm-based automated recommendations, Beats Music will offer access to over 20 million songs via unlimited, ad-free streaming for $9.99 a month on all the usual platforms — including iOS and Mac.
DoubleTwist, the company that has long been helping Android-powered devices work harmoniously with iTunes, today released a new Android app that lets users rip songs from iTunes Radio. Called AirPlay Recorder, the app essentially turns your Android device into an AirPlay receiver, then records all the audio that you play through it.
Apple has restructured its growing iAd division to focus heavily on selling spots for iTunes Radio, according to a report from AdAge. To help sell individual ads to more potential buyers, the company is also reportedly building a real-time bidding exchange for in-app iAds.
At a recent staff meeting, Apple’s Eddy Cue reportedly communicated that iTunes Radio was the “top priority” for selling iAds. “The message that came across was basically if you’re not working on iTunes Radio, you’re irrelevant,” according to an AdAge source. Apple makes 90% of the revenue off its audio ads and only has to give 10% to advertisers. The company recently hired a top-level radio exec from Cumulus Media to help negotiate big deals.
Before iTunes Radio, iAds were only designed for developers to put in iOS apps, but they never really took off. Apple charged a steep premium and was highly selective in selecting ad partners initially, but this recent report suggests that the focus is being shifted to cheaper ads that can be bought individually. The real-time bidding system would work similarly to the stock exchange. In-app iAds could not only become more affordable, but more specifically targeted at users.
Today Apple updated its Remote app with the ability to control iTunes Radio on a Mac or PC. Previously, you could only control music in an iTunes Library. A new “Radio” window has been added in the app like the official Music app.
Remote was just recently updated with a big iOS 7 redesign, and it’s available for free in the App Store.
iTunes Radio competes with other non-on-demand internet radio services, like Pandora. It allows you to pick a seed artist or set of artists and then let its magical algorithms decide what other songs and artists best fit your seed. It then feeds you a stream of music that you can like or dislike along the way, theoretically building a “station” of your favorite music, based on your own tastes.
To access iTunes Radio, all you need to do is launch your Music app with a tap, and then tap on the Radio icon in the lower left. Once there, you can create stations on your own, edit stations you’ve already created, or even listen to iTunes featured stations.
It’s also trivially easy to share your own stations with other folks.
Apple is looking to beef up its ads on iTunes Radio and has poached a top radio ad exec in the process as it prepares to open its service to a wider array of advertisers in 2014.
Michael Pallad, former VP of sales at Cumulus Media, has left the radio giant to oversee Apple’s ad sales for iTunes Radio internationally according to a report from AdAge.
Pallad joined Apple on December 2nd and has spent the last week getting oriented at the Cupertino Headquarters, but he’ll be pressed to get up to speed ASAP as Apple’s initial iTunes Radio ad deals are set to expire at the end of the year.
While Spotify can be used without a paid subscription on your desktop, you need to sign up to Spotify Premium at $9.99 a month to enjoy it on mobile. But that could be about to change, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that Spotify is planning a new ad-supported version of its music streaming service for mobile devices.