Yesterday, among a slew of announcements, Apple took the wraps off its long promised streaming music service Apple iTunes Radio. Those hoping for a rival to Spotify are going to be disappointed. Apple has a very successful music download business and the last thing it wants is to jettison that in favour of music streaming.
So it has done something rather clever. For all intents and purposes iTunes Radio is a sneaky way of encouraging users to swell its coffers by downloading even more tunes and it uses the guise of music streaming to do it.
It works this way. The iTunes software analyses the music you play and download and then comes up with a station based on those tunes alongside music from similar artists that it thinks you might like. It is quite customisable too, so you can set it to just play stuff you know, or instead focus on discovering new music. You can personalise it more too by pressing the incorporated Play More Like This or Never Play This Song tabs.There are also some existing radio stations thrown in and the service is free and supported by ads. There's even a station dedicated to music currently trending on Twitter.
As most of US readers will know the service isn't that dis-similar from Pandora, a service that has never made it to the UK..
In fact there's no guarantees yet that iTunes Radio will ever land in the UK. The company would have to negotiate rights with UK record companies and if it doesn't fly in the US when it launches in the autumn it might not think it is worth its while.
Working on the assumption that we will see it in 2014 will you be using it?
Here's a few scenarios.
1 I am a Spotify subscriber - If this is you chances are you haven't been anywhere near iTunes for two years anyway. You probably rarely download music and you won't even look at a streaming service that doesn't enable you to chose exactly what you want to play. iTunes Radio has nothing for you.
2 I am a casual Spotify user - If you use Spotify but only the free ad supported service then there may be more in iTunes Radio for you. I am guessing that most casual Spotify users are still probably using iTunes for downlands, many maybe to play music files. Spotify does boast radio stations - which are similar to the ones that iTunes Radio will offer - but they are in no way as sophisticated or intelligent as Apple's new service. Spotify's ace card is that you can choose which songs you want and when - and even though there are restrictions it is still free.
3 I mainly download music via iTunes - Well in many ways the new service is perfect for you. Just expece to be paying out more by downloading all those exciting new tracks that you discover.