itunes radio

Apple's iTunes Radio lands tomorrow

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 12:00pm

The long-awaited Internet radio play from Apple, iTunes Radio, officially goes public tomorrow with the release of the company's latest mobile operating system, iOS 7.

Never before has the launch of an Internet radio streaming service been so anticipated, and perhaps rightly so. Apple's marketing power and built-in customer base are unparalleled in this space. Apple commands name recognition beyond any in the field, including leader Pandora. And even though the service's inital launch is U.S.-only, since the iTunes Music Store is all over the world, "the potential stage is global," CNet's Paul Sloan wrote.

This point is one that makes radio consultant Mark Ramsey think the fattest chunk of potential audience for iTunes Radio will be those who've never even tried Internet radio.

"The 'everyone else' who listens to music on their iGadgets and Android devices and desktops who may never have bothered with the incremental 'work' required to download and use a specialized app or platform but who nevertheless are iTunes users," he wrote. "This is particularly true in the many corners of the world where Pandora doesn’t exist."

What's more, since it's "baked in" to iTunes, there's no need to specially "acquire" this radio, which replicates broadcast radio's pathway to ubiquity: "Almost nobody ever 'buys' a radio. When you buy the clock, the radio comes along for free. When you buy the car, the radio comes along for free," Ramsey contends. "You own several without buying any, and you use them simply because they’re there and you can."

One very important way in which Apple will take a slightly different path than its predecessors may be the amount of human curation -- the programming -- of the service. Sloan's sources at music labels believe the service will rely on the tastes and insights of people, just like Apple does with the iTunes Music Store.

"Apple now will get an opportunity to recast a decade-old debate about the respective roles of man versus algorithm when it rolls out this new piece of streaming music software. Apple has built a service in its own image that, to a large degree, leans on taste makers as well as mathematics," CNet says.

We've discussed this many times before -- services' growing understanding that no matter how sophisticated their recommendation algorithms, humans still have the edge in creating compelling, unique listening experiences (see: the new Beats Music, Spotify's new "Browse," and the just-announced deal between Rdio and Cumulus).

Read Sloan's article in CNet here, and Ramsey's post for PBS's MediaShift here.

Labels, publishers hope Apple can be as powerful a force in radio as it's been in music

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 9:20am

Yesterday we extensively covered (here) Apple's iPhone event and the company's announcement that iTunes Radio will become available in the U.S. on September 18 (one week from today). While CEO Tim Cook and other presenters focused more on the new iPhones, the presentation (Apple has posted video here) did conclude with a performance by Elvis Costello, who closed with a "proto" version of his early-career classic "Radio, Radio" called "Radio Soul."

Warner Music Group EVP/Digital Strategy Stephen Bryan thinks the launch of iTunes Radio could be a real inflection point for radio's, and music's, future. He told The New York Times, "It’s a huge opportunity on a global basis to accelerate the transition of radio listeners and advertising dollars from terrestrial to digital."

Labels and publishers, writes The Times, are counting on Apple's "immense marketing power" to bring in more advertising money, and thus more royalty revenue, by becoming a leader in Internet radio in the U.S., and eventurally, around the world. (The service will launch in the U.S. only at first, but keep in mind that Apple operates iTunes Music Stores in 119 countries.)

Research firm eMarketer VP Clark Fredricksen doesn't think Apple can simply waltz in and knock Pandora off the throne in the U.S., however. "At this point Pandora is one of the leading recipients of mobile advertising revenue, and is one of the most popular apps, period, across devices," he told the paper. "It’s tough to see it getting killed."

Coverage from The New York Times is here.

Apple iPhone event, including iTunes Radio launch, today

Tuesday, 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.

Public gets first crack at iTunes Radio a week from tomorrow, with new iOS 7

Tuesday, 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.

iTunes Radio may be an example of Apple's embrace of "disruptive innovation"

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 11:45am

Apple tomorrow will hold its press event at which (most expect) it will unveil its new iPhone models. Shortly thereafter, the new mobile operating system will go live, and with it, the long-awaited iTunes Radio Internet radio service (more in RAIN here).

ITunes Radio represents a shift in direction for Apple's music interests. Apple's most successful musical service, undoubtedly, has been its iTunes Music Store, with which it has become the world's largest music retailer. And while iTunes Radio doesn't mean Apple is abandoning download sales by any means, it likely shows that Apple understands the "disruption" in music consumption, as music moves from a "product" to a "service." Billboard's Glenn Peoples (online, and in further detail, in the magazine) describes Apple's move in terms of Clayton Christensen's influential book The Innovator's Dilemma.

[RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson has written and spoken about applying the book's ideas in Internet radio in the past, like here and here.]

Peoples wrote: "In order to succeed in the streaming marketplace, Apple has to risk killing the music download business it has dominated for the last ten years. With the launch of iTunes Radio, Apple shows it understands the future of music is streaming. iTunes Radio is not necessarily an iTunes-killer -- Internet radio is generally believed to complement music purchases -- but is a first step toward the kind of streaming service that could eventually replace the iTunes Music Store."

Read more online here.

iTunes Radio will broaden iAd offerings to audio and video, so Apple's staffing up

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 9:00am

Apple is reportedly beefing up its sales force as it expands its iAd mobile advertising network and readies its iTunes Radio webcasting service.

AdAge reports (hat-tip to Tom Taylor, who covers the story today in Tom Taylor now here) Apple posted want ads on its job board for five iAd-related jobs, plus another 35 to LinkedIn in August alone. Apple's job openings include account coordinators, ad design managers, project managers, and engineers to create new rich media ads for iAd. The company is also hiring ad execs with creative experience to work with advertisers and agencies to create better ads.

AdAge's coverage links to an eMarketer report from June projecting iAd U.S. revenue growth from $213 million this year to $376 million in 2014 and $623 million in 2015.

Apple will hold a special media event on Tuesday, reportedly to unveil two new iPhone models. Observers believe the new mobile operating system, iOS 7, will go live a week or so later, and with it, Apple's heralded iTunes Radio Internet radio service.

Read more in AdAge here.

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