Why Apple chose iTunes Radio instead of a catalog streaming service

“At WWDC this week Apple announced its rumored ‘iRadio’ streaming music service. The service, dubbed iTunes Radio allows users to stream music using a radio station model via the Music app built into iOS,” Jason D. O’Grady writes for ZDNet. “The tagline is that iTunes Radio ‘builds and brings together stations that you’ll love from day one.'”

“The most obvious comparison is to Pandora which launched its streaming radio service in 2008 and currently has over 70 million active monthly listeners,” O’Grady writes. “Apple most likely chose the radio station model because: It’s less like to cannibalize its iTunes music sales. A buy button is prominently displayed in the upper-right hand corner of the iTunes Radio now playing screen putting you just a touch away from being able to purchase a track; It was a much easier sell to the music labels. I’m sure that the buy button in the upper-right corner was a significant part of Apple pitch to labels; [and] It was easier to close deals with three major music labels.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple announces iTunes Radio – launches this fall – June 10, 2013


  1. It continues to amaze me that people get paid to speculate with nothing to back it up, and that people even care about what they think. If MDN hadn’t picked this story up, I would never have read it. And based on the headline, I hoped for some insight. What I got was a commentary someone’s opinion as to how important the big buy button was in getting the music labels to sign on. I could care less.

    1. I think there used to be a website that would ask you how many words or double-spaced lines you needed, what subject matter, what grade level, and what style you preferred, and then produce a nice-looking and sounding term paper. Probably they couldn’t make money targeting students so now they sell their services to tech writers.

    2. It needs to be pointed out that deep research has been performed on Internet purchasing behaviour, and the bottom line is ease of use (sound familiar?). Amazon has thrived due to impulse buying through its patented one-click technology, which Apple licences to lucrative effect; real-time music excites the senses more than any other type of online experience (so far) and is highly correlated with impulse buys; iTunes has been a smashing success as a result.

    1. Perhaps, if you actually bothered listening to decent radio, you might learn why tens of millions of people listen to it. And that’s just in the UK.
      I listen to BBC 6Music, a digital and Internet station, which has listeners across the world, with a very eclectic playlist, and presenters who are either journalists who’ve worked in music media, or artists who still record and tour, or have given up recording, such as Lauren Lavern, Jarvis Cocker, Guy Garvey, Cerys Matthews and Tom Robinson. As a result, I’ve been exposed to a vast amount of music that I would never have heard from other sources. I cannot listen to internet radio, or streaming audio on my phone, so a small portable radio is perfect. Canadian bands, in particular, have become a big favourite of mine, solely because of hearing them played by the BBC.

  2. For 9 years I built my iTunes library. $5000 in music. Since joining Spotify I haven’t used my iTunes library once. I’m sitting here listening to the Man of Steel soundtrack. I have a Tom Petty album in my iTunes collection. On Spotify I can listen commercial free to over 10 albums. Used to spend $30-$40 per month at iTunes. Now $9.99 for Spotify Premium

    1. Sadly, some of us end up so far in the boondocks that there is no cell or wi-fi available. If you don’t bring it with you, you are sunk. So one size does not fit all.

      Just a thought.

    2. Some people are OK with $10 for Spotify. I would much rather listen to Pandora (or iTunes Radio) and pay only for the music I purchase and own, which is two or three songs a month.

    3. I have over 10,000 songs in iTunes and use iTunes Match to share them across the many devices in the family. At $25 per year this convenience is a bargain. I’m looking forward to iTunes Radio because I do still buy music and will continue to do so until Spotify or Pandora is available on airplanes.

  3. I stopped listening to radio for more than 10 years now for five solid reasons.

    1: Too many freaking commercials
    2: No one plays my favorite Partridge Family Greatest Hits
    3: No one plays my favorite The Monkees Greatest Hits
    4: 90% of the time the DJ never mentions the artist of the new song! I never knew that Captain Kirk had a greatest hits album! Dammit!
    5: Too many FREAKING commercials

  4. Radio has always been frustrating to me since the same set of songs are played over and over again.
    The classic comment was from a DJ that had just played a Kings of Leon song. She was amazed that they had suddenly become popular. She had already forgotten that the station has played the same song 4 times that day already.
    I for one want radio to allow me to discover new music and Pandora works okay. However, Apple’s one click buying will be perfect whilst listening to music in the car. Hear a good song and buy it then and there.
    I foresee a large spike in iTunes sales when this service starts. Flood gates.

  5. It’s hard to believe that there are so many people who will sign up for subscription-based services that force one to remain tied to the internet at all times.

    Those who have a hard time discovering new music must never see live local shows, talk to people who make music, or tune in to Sound Opinions or KEXP or any of hundreds of free podcasts.

    After having invested in a substantial music library of UNCOMPRESSED audio, there is no way we will go back to inferior quality files or let some stupid algorithm decide what narrow music range one likes. To us, “random play” covers literally centuries of music in all languages, genres, and so forth. All these music services do is push whatever the large music labels want to sell, which is exceedingly narrow in scope and doesn’t scratch the surface of all the great deep cuts. live tracks, and rare analog recordings that one like myself may have spent years painstakingly digitizing and re-engineering for the digital realm.

    Your mileage may vary, but neither ads nor subscriptions are attractive in any for me. I will happily buy the occasional track a-la-carte from iTunes, but even then it’s only when I don’t want to buy the full-fidelity disc.

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