RIP iTunes Radio, long live the new iTunes Radio
This week's abominably late Pointers column (sorry about that) is an update of one we did in March of this year about how to create your own custom iTunes Radio station based on songs or artists that you liked. If you haven't updated to iTunes 12.2 yet, then read the older column for instructions for your version of iTunes. When version 12.2 came out, things changed -- some for the better, some for the worse, and iTunes Radio changed too.
Despite launch confusion, it's excellent
Just spotted on one of our reviewers' Facebook page: a music fan has written "so long Spotify, it was good while it lasted." Time will tell -- specifically three months of time, as that's how long Apple's giving for free -- but we're already impressed with Apple Music. Not so impressed, however, with the expected problem of it being difficult to download the necessary updates while everyone else in the world was trying to grab them too. Actively disappointed with the unexpected issues facing some unknown number of iTunes Match users, as well. Yet in terms of what Apple Music does, and what it's like, we actually are impressed.
Genre-based stations remain, but non-functional outside US
Following the addition of a Music service sign-up sheet (non-functional) in Apple's latest iOS betas, on Thursday the Music app for iOS 8.4 and iOS 9 also gained a teaser trailer for Apple's forthcoming Beats 1 radio station and a new "Radio" tab that offers a number of revamped "genre" stations inherited from iTunes Radio. Like Beats 1 itself, the radio stations will be free to listen to for all users, alongside their own music libraries.
Company pushing forward despite reports of record company reticence, federal investigations
Speculation and unconfirmed reports have run rampant over Apple's progress in its effort to revamp its iTunes music services, with recent reports suggesting the company may have difficulty hitting its planned June target for formally introducing both a revised Music app for iOS in the forthcoming iOS 8.4, and a significantly revamped iTunes Radio and Beats Music streaming service designed to compete with Spotify. Various reports, however, claim obstacles -- ranging from music label reluctance to federal investigations.
Get the good and avoid the irritating features of streaming music
There are other streaming music services, and you can well argue that there are better ones, but Spotify is winning the war to become the Hoover, Xerox, and iPad of its class: the brand name that somehow becomes synonymous with the idea. At least, nobody tells you what their favourite iTunes Radio station is, no one in the world sends you links to Pandora, and it's like few people have heard of Beats Music. Yet. However, Spotify is known even by normal people, and it is a way in to the whole streaming music subscription concept.
'Sneak peek' offers better iTunes Radio experience; Xcode 6.4 beta updated also
On Monday, Apple released the first iOS 8.4 beta to developers, which among other feature includes what the company calls a "sneak peek" at a revamped Music app that now offers a new Miniplayer, global search, a better iTunes Radio experience and improved "Now Playing" screen that allows custom art from users, along with a Recently Added automatic playlist. In addition, Apple updated its Xcode 6.4 beta with new SDKs for iOS 8.4, and compatibility updates for OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10).
Beats integration, iTunes overhaul likely to be on agenda for WWDC in June
A new article in The New York Times describes in some detail the alleged transition plans Apple is undertaking to transform both iTunes and Beats Music, it's acquired subscription streaming service. Among other details, the report assigns roles to iTunes Radio chief Zane Lowe, who until recently was a top BBC Radio 1 DJ, and describes musician Trent Reznor as a "point man" on an iOS Music app overhaul.
Move intended to capture more of the burgeoning digital audio ad market
Apple has brought its iAd platform to iTunes Radio, and is now offering programmatic ad buying. Alongside the new offering, the Cupertino company is giving ad buyers additional customer targeting ability, with Apple's "Customer Match" tool which indexes customers based on iTunes purchases and behavior in its app stores, linked to an automatic IDFA mobile identifier, rather than manual pairing.
A little fine-tuning will result in delightful listening
Apple's iTunes Radio is one of those things that is criminally underused by most Mac and iOS users, and its a shame: the service is really very good -- and with a tiny amount of effort, can be as, or more, enjoyable than even Pandora One or the other subscription streaming music services, not to mention cheaper. In this post, we're going to show you how to create, and then fine-tune, a custom station that features music you love and compatible new discoveries.
Widget allows at-a-glance song info, opportunity to purchase through iTunes Radio
On Thursday, Apple released iTunes 12.1, a minor update for Yosemite users only that brings only one new feature, along with a general improvement in syncing performance with iOS devices. The big change is that the program now includes a widget that can be optionally added to the Mac's Notification Center. This will allow users to control and get info on a playing song at a glance, whether the user is listening to their own library or to iTunes Radio.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
US customers get holiday channels on iTunes Radio instead
As was the case last year, Canadians are once again getting a sale on selected albums in iTunes as part of a "Boxing Day" event, part of a traditional observance throughout Canada and a number of other Commonwealth countries. The UK iTunes Store is also having a sale on hit albums, but doesn't label the event as a "Boxing Day" sale. US users don't get a sale, but are instead enjoying special holiday channels on iTunes Radio, which remains unavailable in the UK and Canada.
Former gets Windows users iCloud Drive ahead of Macs
Apple has issued v4.0 of iCloud for Windows, the client needed for Windows users to sync content such as email, bookmarks, and photos with iCloud. The v4.0 software is a major update, bringing support for iCloud Drive, Apple's Dropbox-like file storage service. Significantly, this means that Windows users are getting access to the feature ahead of Mac owners. It first became an option with iOS 8's debut on Wednesday, but won't hit OS X until Yosemite appears at some point in the next month.
App and Media stores, iTunes Match and Radio unavailable to some users
[Update: problems resolved as of approximately 7:45PM ET] For the second time in as many days, Apple's online stores are unavailable for an undetermined percentage of users. The current outage, which began around 4:30PM ET and is ongoing, is affecting the both the iOS and Mac App Stores, the iBookstore, and a variety of iTunes services such as iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store. Other iCloud services, such as Siri, email, FaceTime and syncing services are not affected.
Executive will straddle both music services
Beats Music head Ian Rogers will also take charge of iTunes Radio as a part of Apple's acquisition of Beats, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The people add that having Rogers in charge of both units is intended to generate cohesion in Apple's streaming music options. How exactly that might manifest is unclear, but the Journal speculates that Apple may implement new subscription options.
New York, Austin, Los Angeles among NPR affliates
As anticipated, ESPN and a collection of local National Public Radio affiliates have been added to Apple's iTunes Radio service. Both are live streams of their broadcast counterparts, and in some cases use custom art for individual shows. Some of the NPR affiliates include ones in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, and Washington DC.
Developers asked to remove downloading functions
Apple appears to be targeting music downloading apps for removal at the iOS App Store, and is moreover skewing related search results, accounts say. Some developers say they are being asked to remove audio download functions from their titles. When searching for the term "music download" at the App Store, the first result is now an ad for iTunes Radio, and the next highest ones are for primarily streaming-based apps, such as Spotify (which does however allow temporary offline listening).
Could make iTunes more appealing to marketers
Apple is planning several changes to improve the success of iTunes Radio, according to ad buyers reached by The Information. The first is the addition locally-targeted ads, something reportedly happening later this year. The company may also begin promoting iTunes with "house ads" on its iAd network.
Claims best products in 25 years due in 2014
Speaking yesterday at the Code Conference, Apple's senior VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue -- joined by Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- offered an explanation of the company's $3 billion buyout of Beats, and also discussed Apple's upcoming product pipeline. He noted that a deal for Beats and/or the people behind it has been in development for a decade, and that together the two companies should be able to speed up products that are being kept secret.
World Cup will be first live-streamed sporting event
Apple is in the process of creating a dedicated ESPN station for iTunes Radio, its ad-supported free streaming service. The new channel will carry both original ESPN audio programs and will offer some live sports streaming, including this year's World Cup broadcast -- the first time a sporting event will be live-streamed through iTunes Radio. As reported in March, a number of local NPR affiliates will also be joining the iTunes Radio lineup.
Deal could be announced by end of week
Apple has lowered its asking price for Beats Electronics to $3 billion, but is in a position to announce a deal by the end of the week, according to sources for the New York Post. The original $3.2 billion figure is said to have been touted prematurely. "Apple hadn't even begun its due diligence process when news of the number came out," one source is quoted as saying.
Latest in a series of album debuts attracting listeners, press
Apple's iTunes Radio continues to attract publicity and listeners through a string of recent streaming "listening party" album debuts, with the latest being Coldplay offering their latest album, Ghost Stories, as a free stream on the service. The new album, which debuts May 19, joins a long list of recent debuts, including albums by The Black Keys, Pharrell, Eminem and Beyonce.
Beats' Jimmy Iovine seen on Apple campus
Apple took an interest in buying Beats Electronics because of Beats Music, according to a Bloomberg source claimed to be familiar with acquisition talks. Beats Music launched just earlier this year, but Apple executives are said to have been impressed by Beats' ability to convert people into paying subscribers. That could imply that Apple wants to improve iTunes Radio by upgrading its design and/or introducing more subscription options. The closest thing to an iTunes Radio subscription is iTunes Match, which removes ads from Radio but is intended mainly as a way of backing up a personal library and streaming it anywhere.
New 'Turn Blue' to be released May 13; two songs available now
As part of an ongoing effort to differentiate itself from other streaming services, iTunes Radio has lately been on a tear of offering pre-release albums streamed on the ad-supported service. The latest entry is the new album Turn Blue by The Black Keys, now available to listen to in its entirety through a dedicated "First Play" channel. Also currently available under the "First Play" moniker are new albums by Michael W. Smith and Chromeo.
Song-identification technology may be enlisted for Siri, iTunes Radio
Citing unnamed sources "with knowledge of the product," Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may enter into a partnership with song-identifying app Shazam to bring the music-matching feature to iOS 8. Users could, for example, ask Siri "what song is playing?" as they listen to iTunes Radio or other streaming music services, with the voice assistant enlisting Shazam's services to return an answer after a short identifying pause. This in turn would produce a link to the song on iTunes.
Sighting adds to rumors that Apple plans multi-country but slow rollout
Fueling speculation that Apple may be planning to expand iTunes Radio to selected countries in the near future, tweets on Twitter have revealed that Apple's director of iAd services, Paul Wright, has been making the rounds of London media marketing and ad agencies where he is based. This follows claims by online radio service Bloom, which would be a competitor to iTunes Radio in the UK, that it was rebuffed from advertising on iAd, and a report of iTunes Radio briefly functioning in Ecuador.
Follows earlier report of occasional reception in Canada, UK
Users in Ecuador have provided evidence that iTunes Radio is now sporadically available in the South American country, suggesting that Apple is testing the service in preparation for international rollouts there and elsewhere. The news comes on the heels of previous reports in both the UK and Canada that saw testing of the service in those place, which may hint that Apple plans to announce a big expansion of the service in the near future. Officially, it is only available in the US and Australia currently.
Apple says move in keeping with official policies
UK-based streaming service Bloom.fm has been banned from advertising on Apple's iAd network due to it being competition with iTunes Radio, according to Bloom PR representatives. Until recently, Bloom was spending ¬£2,000 per month on iAd spots. In rejecting the advertising, Apple is quoted as telling Bloom that it constituted "a competitive service to iTunes Radio and it is against Apple policy."
iTunes Radio failing to convert listeners into buyers
Apple is considering a major overhaul of the iTunes Music Store in light of iTunes Radio failing to slow the decline of music downloads, say anonymous executives allegedly familiar with the company's plans. One of the key features of iTunes Radio, from Apple's perspective, is the ease with which it lets people by music from the iTunes Store. Only about 1 to 2 percent of people are actually tapping the Buy button though, and overall music downloads have declined by more than 15 percent.
Local affiliates anticipated soon
Apple is today adding National Public Radio as a channel on iTunes Radio, according to officials with NPR. The stream will be free and run 24 hours a day, mixing live news with the broadcaster's pre-recorded shows. Within the next few weeks, local NPR affiliates should start offering channels of their own. Other details of the agreement with Apple are unknown, but NPR is run as a non-profit.
Would be attempt at boosting usage
Apple is testing the idea of moving iTunes Radio into a dedicated app for iOS 8, sources say. At the moment, iTunes Radio is just another option in iOS 7's Music app. This may be hurting its adoption, since third-party rivals like Pandora and Spotify are separate apps and hence more visible. As a distinct entity, iTunes Radio would likely still come pre-installed with iOS 8.
Close to capturing second, but still far behind reigning champ Pandora
Barely six months after it debuted, Apple's iTunes Radio has already eclipsed Spotify and Google Play All Access (and others) to become the third most popular music streaming service in the US, according to a new report from Statista. While long-time veteran Internet radio station Pandora continues to maintain a clear lead over all rivals, it has taken 14 years for the latter service to reach its current level of 70 million active listeners (as of last April) and it continues to struggle with profits.
Remote gains Apple TV upgrades
(Updated with Logic Remote news) In the wake of iOS 7.1 and Apple TV 6.1, Apple has released updates to Remote, Podcasts, and GarageBand for iOS, as well as Xcode and iAd Producer for desktops. While the Podcasts and GarageBand updates merely include bugfixes, Remote can now control iTunes Radio on an Apple TV. Apple TV owners have also gained the ability to browse purchased video through the app.
Available for all iOS 7-compatible devices
After a lengthy development and testing period, Apple has released the finished version of iOS 7.1 to the public. The code makes a number of improvements to iOS 7, for instance enabling CarPlay support in yet-to-be-launched vehicles. Siri will now let users hold down the Home button to decide how long a device should listen, instead of having to wait for the system to decide no one is talking. More naturalistic voices have been supplied for Japanese, British and Australian English, and Mandarin Chinese.
90s grunge act Soundgarden to perform 'Superunknown' in full at concert
On the heels of the announcement that the iTunes Festival, a live music event held annually in London, will be extended to a week of shows in the US for the first time at this year's SXSW music festival, Apple has now announced that 90s rock act Soundgarden will join the lineup. The band, featuring its full original lineup, will perform its best-known album "Superunknown" in full during the concert, celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Canada, UK, New Zealand rumored to be coming soon
iTunes Radio is now available to people in Australia, Apple has announced. There the service is functionally identical to its American sibling, in that it's primarily supported by advertising, but free to people who have an iTunes Match subscription. To listen, people need a Mac or Windows PC with iTunes, an Apple TV, or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Akasha game launches on Google Play, with later release on App Store
Games publisher and developer GameEvil has announced its release of Akasha, its latest action MORPG. Featuring three retro classes -- Fighter, Archer and Mage -- players are able to experience dynamic action gameplay while enjoying the classic aesthetic of an MORPG. Its specialized dungeon play and skill upgrading system is customizable. Gamers who play prior to January 26, will receive a Beginner Support Pac and two limited-edition in-game crystals, offering passive stats and bonuses.
Hire hints at further push into streaming audio
Apple has reportedly poached an advertising executive, Michael Pallad, from Cumulus Media, unnamed sources have told Ad Age. After serving as executive VP of sales at the second-largest owner of FM radio stations, Pallad now is said to be tasked with overseeing international ad sales for Apple's iTunes Radio service.
iTunes Radio streams new Eminem album ahead of release
Apple's iTunes Radio service is now streaming the new album from rap artist Eminem in its entirety. "The Marshall Mathers LP2," the popular rap artist's first full-length album in three years, is also one of the first albums to stream in its entirety on Apple's recently launched but increasingly popular streaming service. The appearance of the album in full is a fulfillment of a statement made by Apple executive Eddy Cue earlier this year as to how Apple would promote certain tracks and artists through iTunes Radio.
App Store offers over 1 million apps
During today's keynote, Apple started by detailing some of the company's recent successes. Cook reiterated how the company was able to achieve its biggest iPhone launch ever, by selling 9 million iPhone devices in the first weekend that the iPhone 5s and 5c were made available. Following this, Cook moved into numbers regarding the recently released iTunes Radio. Since launching in the US on September 18 more than 20 million listeners have tuned into the service, and over 1 billion songs have been played in the US alone. Finally, it was announced that the App Store now offers over 1 million unique apps, which have been downloaded over 60 billion times, resulting in more than $13 billion dollars being paid out to developers in total.
Music site exploits publicity, complains of 'substandard' terms
A digital music news site was forced to take down a copy of an iTunes Radio contract it had been given and published -- opting to post the entire contract online rather than just discuss the portions it wanted to highlight, prompting a copyright claim from Apple. While some have claimed that Apple's beef was more about suppressing business details than protecting copyright, the site's tactics raise the question of whether its okay to break the law in the name of trying to garner hits.
Beats predictions from sources
iTunes Radio is already rolling out in Canada and the UK, according to anecdotal reports. Until this week, the service was only accessible in the US. The timing beats out predictions by Bloomberg sources, who suggested that Canada and the UK would only get Radio in early 2014. There is no word yet of Australia, New Zealand, or various Nordic countries getting access; the Bloomberg sources suggested those regions would be joining Canada and the UK in roughly the same timeframe.
English-speaking and Nordic countries in initial rollout plans
Apple is expected to make English-speaking and Nordic countries the first wave of its expansion of iTunes Radio into non-US countries, pulling ahead of main rival Pandora in terms of international reach, Bloomberg reports. Citing "people with knowledge of the situation," Apple expects to bring the new streaming-radio feature of iTunes to Canada, the UK, several Nordic countries, Australia and New Zealand in a timeframe said to be aimed for early 2014.
America's northern neighbor likely to be first outside country to gain the service
Apple has posted job notices seeking iTunes Radio programmers for Canada, a sign that the well-received free music-streaming service will be expanding into the US' closest ally as one of, if not the, first countries outside America to gain the service. The posting suggests that the launch of the service in Canada may occur as early as sometime later this month, presuming some strong candidates can be found.
Streaming previews can be major boost to sales
Apple will use iTunes Radio to promote and stream albums before their release, according to Eddy Cue, the company's senior VP for Internet Software and Services. For some time now Apple has been offering full-length preview streams of albums by mainstream acts, but only on the iTunes Store. "Itís a huge improvement to do it on iTunes Radio because you donít go to a store a lot. Hopefully lots of people will be listening to iTunes Radio a lot; from a discovery perspective itís significantly better," says Cue.
Pandora founder says iTunes Radio will have only 'modest' impact
In what may become a "Michael Dell moment," Pandora Media founder and CTO Tim Westergren told a conference of stock analysts on Tuesday that Apple's entry into the streaming radio business through its iTunes Radio may have an effect, but its "impact will be modest on Pandora," adding that "it's really too early to tell" what the overall adoption rate of iTunes Radio will be, though Apple has already reported that it added 11 million unique listeners in the service's first weekend. The (currently) US-only iTunes Radio is part of a revamped Music player on iOS devices and in iTunes 11 for Macs and PCs.
Deal to last at least through 2013
Nissan has signed a deal with Apple to be an exclusive automotive advertiser on iTunes Radio, according to an official announcement by the carmaker. The exclusivity will hold through the end of 2013. The company adds that it plans to treat iTunes Radio as a priority platform for advertising new vehicles, beginning with the latest Rogue, Leaf, and Versa Note models. Some form of agreement was rumored prior to iTunes Radio's September launch.
Set-top gets Chromecast-like content streaming
Apple has released an anticipated firmware update for the Apple TV, v6.0. The main addition is support for iTunes Radio, Apple's new streaming music service, also available on Mac, Windows, and iOS devices. Some other changes include podcast sync, access to shared Photo Streams, and the ability to listen to music purchased from the iTunes Store directly. Version numbers for Apple TV are typically behind that of the iOS release they are drawn from.
May suggest Apple still working on finalizing streaming deals
Albums by The Beatles have finally reached iTunes Radio, reports observe. Although the band's catalog has been available for years on the iTunes Store, and iTunes Radio has been active in pre-release form since June, the Beatles were conspicuously absent from Radio until this weekend. Access to the Beatles catalog could be an Apple advantage over some rival streaming services, like Spotify.
Update for iOS expected on September 10 alongside new iPhone launch
Apple and its primary US iPhone carrier partner, AT&T, have begun formally training their respective support staffs (such as front-desk sales, technicians and call-in support crews) on the upcoming iOS 7, which is expected to arrive alongside the announcement of new iPhones at an Apple media event on September 10. The training, revealed a set of leaked support screens, show overviews of the primary features of the upgrade, including things like iTunes Radio and the Activation Lock which will be part of the enhanced Find My iPhone app.