iTunes Radio will be available to Apple users once new operating system iOS7 is released in the Autumn and will potentially have hundreds of millions of listeners through Apple’s many devices including the iPhone, iPad, MAC, iPod touch and Apple TV. As iTunes already has 300 million users, it is likely to offer stiff competition to existing music-streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and Google All Access.
The huge advantage Apple will have over its rivals is that it will already have vast knowledge of their iTunes-users’ music preferences which will enable them to create highly personalised ‘radio stations’ for those users which will feature popular tracks and favoured artists as well as new recommendations.
iTunes Radio will also have the advantage of being able to offer its service completely free with no limits on listening time unlike some of its competitors who have had to introduce fees or limits on airtime due to expensive licensing costs. Apple will fund their radio service through advertising but their users can avoid having to listen to ads if they subscribe to Apple’s iTunes Match music storage service which costs around £19 a year.
Apple has made it pretty simple to create and personalise your own radio stations . They build a station around an artist, a particular music genre or a song that you choose or that already exists in your music library. Then, as you’re listening to tracks, you have several options on your screen which help to customise your station such as ‘Play More Like This’ or ‘Never Play This Song’. The more often you use your iTunes and iTunes Radio accounts, the more personalised your very own radio stations will become. You can also subscribe to existing stations built around popular music genres.
The service is integrated with Siri so you can go ‘handsfree’ and tell your virtual assistant to ‘play more like this’, tell you who an artist is and pause, stop or skip to the next song. You can even have Siri add songs to your wishlist for download later.
All of your music stations and music history can be stored in iCloud using iTunes Match. The beauty of Apple’s iCloud is that it allows you to easily switch from one device to another to listen to your iTunes Radio music without having to sync your devices.
iTunes Radio will only be available in the US initially, but will be rolled out international as deals are signed with overseas music publishers.