9/10/13 update: Apple will launch iTunes Radio Sept. 18

Paul Maloney
September 10, 2013 - 11:10am

Today during its iPhone press event, Apple announced its iTunes Radio webcasting service will go live to the public when the new mobile operating system, iOS 7, becomes available on September 18.

As we've previously reported, iTunes Match customers (who pay $24.99 a year) will access iTunes Radio free with no ads. The service will be free, but with ads, for others (in the U.S.). iTunes Radio will work on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV), and iTunes on Mac and PC. Listeners will be able to create their own stations based on songs or artists, and easily purchase music they hear. There will be a number of unique "feature" stations, and over 200 genre-based channels. There will not be any "Spotify-like" on-demand music listening.

"Because we love music," said Apple CEO Tim Cook, a short performance by artist Elvis Costello capped off the hour-long event, which mostly featured Apple's two new iPhone models, the 5S and 5C.

Read our prior coverage of iTunes Radio here.

Paul Maloney
September 10, 2013 - 11:10am

from today's early edition:
Today's the big day Apple is expected to launch (in the U.S. only) the long-awaited iTunes Radio webcasting service (at 1pm ET, 10am PT). We'll be following live-blogs from sources like Mashable here and GigaOm here.

While we wait, there are several "what to expect" round-ups out there. Glenn Peoples at Billboard says his sources say to expect an ad every 15 minutes (which is far less than broadcast radio...but it'll be interesting to see how the audience reacts) on the free version.

One unique feature will be the service's integration with Apple's voice-command function, Siri. You can see a cool video demo of that here.

Peoples also mentions "featured stations," and a screenshot that shows options like "If You Like Bruce Springsteen..," "Country Summer Songs," and "Trending on Twitter." There will be over 200 genre stations.

Instead of a "thumbs" rating system to customize the channel, listeners will award songs a "star." There will also be "slider" customizations (for example, adjusting between "Top Hits" and "Discovery" to adjust the amount of unfamiliar music that's played), like Slacker or SiriusXM's mySXM webcast service.

iTunes Radio will also offer some exclusive music and promotional tracks (we learned about this when details emerged about Apple's licensing terms -- see RAIN here).

Read more in Billboard here. See Tom Taylor's coverage in Tom Taylor Now here.

Brad Hill
September 10, 2013 - 11:10am

Whether by coincidence, or as deliberate attempts to steal a bit of the spotlight on “Apple event day” (arguably a national holiday for the technorati), iHeartRadio and Google introduced updates to their Internet radio products.

iHeartRadio, Clear Channel's broad aggregation platform that offers live terrestrial streams, house-curated stations such as the popular All Beatles & Stones Radio, and user-generated artist stations, put a spotlight on talk radio with additional enhancements for the iHeartRadio Talk function on iOS and Android mobile apps (see more on iHeartRadio's Talk feature in RAIN coverage here). The new directory is live on the web interface and the updated iOS app which dropped into Apple’s store yesterday (Android update coming Thursday).

The new Talk section breaks out a list of talk-radio genres stocked with a range of listening options. Major-network participation from ABC News is apparent in several categories. Welcome exposure is given to specialty programs that many users might not be aware of, or would have difficulty tracking down, such as Paul Shaffer’s Day in Rock. Podcasts are sprinkled about. The iOS app experience is impaired by lack of a persistent search box (which usefully exists on the web site), and is aggravated by pre-roll video ads, which are persistent.

Meanwhile, the unfortunately-named Google Play Music All Access updated its Android app with genre stations -- a default feature of most interactive streamers. Adding them now underlines Google’s failure to launch with a genre directory when the service started in May, and emphasizes a certain slapdashery in the Internet radio space (we’re looking at you, too, Xbox Music).

All signs point to a more deliberate and imperialistic rollout of iTunes Radio, possibly as early as this afternoon. The Apple event (1pmEDT / 10amPDT) will certainly deliver information about it and its release date.

These update maneuvers from iHeart and Google do not diminish Apple’s publicity clout, but they perhaps do insert themselves into the internet radio mindspace which is on full alert this week, and re-engage the interest of users at a dangerous time when everyone will want to get a taste of Apple’s new music experience.

Paul Maloney
September 10, 2013 - 11:10am

Great wisdom and insight often comes from your readers (we're reminded of that almost daily). Today, a Digital Music News commenter very nicely summarized and aggregated seven advantages pundits believe the new Apple iTunes Radio service has over what will likely be its nearest competitor, Pandora.

The comment was posted to the news source's coverage of NPD Group consultant Russ Crupnik's own seven reasons why the new service may truly be a "Pandora-killer." Using the handle "Here Let Me Research It For Yo," the commenter (after a quick shot about "lazy insights") made good on her/his moniker, and offered relevant bits from sources like the Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Evolver.fm, The Wall Street Journal, and Apple itself.

Most of the points seem to involve how well the service should be integrated within the Apple ecosystem and customer base, but does include a point that "Pandora hasn't continued to innovate..."

See this commenter's round up of "7 Reasons Why Apple's 'Pandora Killer' May Actually Be a 'Pandora Killer'" here.

Paul Maloney
September 10, 2013 - 11:10am

Edison Research offers some insight into the habits of at-work Internet radio listeners today. Edison has posted some graphs of its findings from the "What's Working at Work" study (sponsored by Radionomy).

Edison found that among the most popular reasons for listening to Internet-only radio while working are "hear favorite songs" (82%), "discover new songs" (72%), "create 'radio stations' based on favorite songs or artists" (72%), "ability to skip" (67%), and "music not on AM/FM" (65%).

According to the study, 86% of those who listen to Internet-only radio at work also "sometimes" (49%) or "frequently" (37%) listen in other locations. In a typical week, 31% says they listen to two different Internet-only radio stations.

The most popular genres amongst at-work pureplay listeners were Rock (especially Classic Rock) and Top 40/Hit Music.

See the Edison/Radionomy summary here. Edison will present "What's Working At Work?" at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Orlando on September 20.