Examining iTunes Radio
At its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10th, Apple unveiled their next innovation in the world of music: iTunes Radio. Apple’s foray into the world of custom streaming radio has the tech community questioning how it will hold up against established services like Pandora (which has a whopping 200 million total and 70 million monthly active users) and Spotify (which boasts 20 million monthly active users), and newcomers like Xbox Music and Google Play Music All Access.
iTunes Radio will be accessible via all iOS devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, or Apple TV. It has many striking similarities to Pandora. You can create stations based around artists, songs, and genres and the stations “evolve based on the music you play and download.” The more you use it, the more personalized your stations become. The service is either free to those who can stand text and audio ads or ad-free with a $24.99 yearly subscription to iTunes Match, which also stores your music library on iCloud.
One of the most unique features of iTunes Radio is its “Buy” button, allowing you to natively purchase music from the iTunes store. This has many record labels hopeful for increases in iTunes sales. The service also has a unique payout method, which is set to put more dollars in the pockets of labels and publishers than any streaming service currently. Billboard.biz explains it:
On the recorded-music side, sources say Apple has agreed to carve out two buckets of revenue and whichever is higher will be where payments come from. In one bucket, Apple will store 10%-20% of ad revenue to cover its costs in lining up advertising and then split the remainder evenly with the labels. In the other bucket, Apple will pay slightly more than the pure-play rate that Pandora pays, which is $0.0012 per song stream. Some sources peg that number at $0.00125-$0.0013 per stream, but that bucket will also have a sliver of an undisclosed amount of ad revenue added to it.
These numbers are promising, causing Sony, Warner Music Group, and Universal to grant Apple rights to their catalogs. They are working on acquiring rights from more major and indie labels alike. iTunes Radio is going to have to compete with the massive 30 million-song library of Xbox Music and 20-million song library of Spotify. But as the Apple website states, “As the world’s most popular music store, iTunes has access to thousands of new songs every week. And you’ll hear some of that music on iTunes Radio before you hear it anywhere else.” This should prove well for underground and mainstream artists alike. iTunes already has a fairly hefty amount of techno and house and adds more by the day, leading us to believe we’ll be able to do some discovering in our favorite genres outside of Soundcloud and Beatport.
Another unique feature of iTunes Radio is its ability to be controlled by Siri. Siri can take your direction to play, pause, skip, “Play More Like This,” and even save to your Apple ID-connected wishlist for you to download from later. This will certainly set it apart from other music services on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
We will have to wait until iOS 7 is debuted in the fall to make a final decision, but bet this will prove to be another Apple success. Do you currently use a streaming radio service? Would you switch over to iTunes Radio? Let us know in the comments below!