9/19/13: Early reviews say iTunes Radio "competent," but lacking Apple-level innovation

Paul Maloney
September 19, 2013 - 10:55am

Perhaps because it's Apple, the bar just gets set unrealistically high.

Not that anyone (that we've seen) is outright panning the new iTunes Radio service, one day after what was the most anticipated launch in Internet radio history. It just seems that some folks are, well, underwhelmed.

Billboard's Alex Pham "grades" the service as "a middling student with great unfulfilled potential." The spirit of this (and other reviews) is that iTunes Radio does the basics well, but where's the Apple excitement and pizazz? Pandora's been doing Internet radio well for 10 years.

He found the interface to be great, station creation simple and intuitive. But the genres seems unoriginal, and the Siri interface isn't really "ready for prime time." Read more in Billboard here.

Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar agreed the service was competent, and even "beautiful and dead simple to use." In fact, he found it "better than Pandora —- if only because there is less repetition. For its very limited functionality, iTunes Radio is very good at what it does."

But again, there's that "very limited functionality." Apple used to revolutionize. But those days may be over.

"iTunes Radio is just a decade-old product baked into a media player that hasn't added a noticeable feature since iTunes Match in 2011," Aguilar wrote. The service is "just another path to the iTunes Store... The only significant difference between iTunes Radio and the rest of an increasingly crowded field is that every song that's playing comes with Buy link."

Read more in Gizmodo here.

What are your experiences with iTunes Radio? Is it worth the hype? How does it stack up to Pandora, or Slacker, or iHeartRadio, or any of the other hundreds of competitors (such as the winners of our RAIN Internet Radio Awards)? We'd love to get your input. Please share your comments below.

Paul Maloney
September 19, 2013 - 10:55am

Yesterday we pointed you to some of the coverage of Tuesday's RAIN Summit Orlando event in publications like Tom Taylor Now and Inside Radio.

We wanted to let you know that radio consultant Holland Cooke put together some nice summaries of Summit content, writing for RadioInfo.com. Please take a look at Holland's work here.

Radio World's Leslie Stimson also attended the Summit. She covers "The Race to the Dashboard" panel here, Entercom president and CEO David Field's keynote address here, and the research presentation from Steve Sherfy and Jesse Wolfsberger of GroupM Next here.

TuneIn, which provided live audio streaming of the event, will soon make archived audio available. Stay tuned!

Paul Maloney
September 19, 2013 - 10:55am

Radionomy says they realize online streaming can prove difficult for midsize broadcasters that can’t afford the technology, or worry about losing their brand in the transition. So the company, which provides hosting and streaming services to hobbyist and professional webcasters around the world, has announced a no cost solution for traditional AM/FM broadcasters and small business webcasters to allow them to stream, with tools and support for a seamless transition.

There are two tiers of the service: Radionomy for Broadcasters Blue (unlimited free worldwide streaming and all other radio features, designed for Internet-only webcasters and independent AM/FM stations), and Radionomy for Broadcasters Purple (custom-designed for larger networks that wish to retain their existing streaming provider while integrating Radionomy benefits such as ad insertion).

Visit Radionomy for Broadcasters here for more.

Paul Maloney
September 19, 2013 - 10:55am

Companies like to time their announcements and new feature launches around industry events like the NAB/RAB Radio Show, Apple's iTunes Radio launch, and so on. That's made for a big of a back-up in reporting some of these developments. That's not to say each one of these news items is directly tied to the show, but Rather, news like this tends come fast and furious around conferences. But we think it's of interest to our readers, so we wanted to get it out there, at least in brief form.

Hosting and streaming services company Liquid Compass had two announcements this week. First, the company unveiled three new premium services for broadcast clients that simulcast online. "GeoFencing" allows broadcasters to limit the reach of streaming access by country or DMA. Also new is the "synchronized terrestrial banner" for simulcast streams, and a beta of geo-restricted subscription services, so stations that forego out-of-market ad replacement can charge non-local listeners for access. Second, Liquid Compass launched three new turn-key product packages for broadcasters, service providers, and ad sellers and agencies called White Label, Reseller, and Affiliate.

Leading public radio outlet KCRW has debuted live streaming on its YouTube channel. The station, long known for being ahead of even most public radio when it comes to digital, says the stream will feature live in-studio performances from musical artists appearing on "Morning Becomes Eclectic" (as well as archived sets).

"We believe Pandora is cultivating a better musical future by enabling an effortless and endless exchange where music flows freely from the artists who create it to the audiences who love it." Pandora says, in its blog, this thinking is the foundation of its "evolved brand strategy," begun yesterday with its new logo and iPad app (see RAIN here). There's even a video about it here.

Broadcast group Federated Media has named online tuning software provider TuneIn the official mobile app and online audio player for all 15 of its stations. All Federated Media stations will migrate from their existing mobile apps and audio players to TuneIn Radio's app and custom-branded TuneIn audio players, and will promote TuneIn on-air.

Focus 360, which provides programming, syndication, and national ad sales to radio, will deploy the Jelli cloud-based ad platform to sell and serve advertising for station groups and show producers. The multi-year deal will have Focus 360's ad network using Jelli's RadioSpot platform, the first time Jelli has used a third party to power ad-serving and reporting.