Apple’s ‘iTunes Music’ streaming service to cost $9.99/month, no free tier; iTunes Radio to get makeover

“Almost a year after agreeing to pay $3 billion for Beats, the maker of hip headphones and a streaming music service, Apple is working with Beats engineers and executives to introduce its own subscription streaming service,” Ben Sisario and Brian X. Chen report for The New York Times. “The company is also planning an enhanced iTunes Radio that may be tailored to listeners in regional markets, and, if Apple gets what it wants, more splashy new albums that will be on iTunes before they are available anywhere else, according to people briefed on the company’s plans.”

“Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman who was the chief creative officer for Beats, is playing a major role in redesigning the music app, according to two Apple employees familiar with the product,” Sisario and Chen report. “According to several music executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private, Apple recently tried but failed to persuade record labels to agree to lower licensing costs that would have let Apple sell subscriptions to its streaming service for $8 a month — a discount from the $10 that has become standard for services like Spotify, Rhapsody and Rdio.”

“A crucial difference for Apple’s streaming service is that unlike Spotify, it will have no free tier,” Sisario and Chen report. “Apple is also expected to overhaul iTunes Radio, the free service that the company introduced in September 2013 as a competitor to Pandora, and which has had little impact on the marketplace. One new player is Zane Lowe, a former BBC radio D.J. known as a trend-spotter. Last month he announced that he would join Apple in Los Angeles, where the Beats team is concentrated.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We understand how iTunes came to be the way it is currently, but it really needs a lot of work. For far too long, it’s been trying to do way too many things. For many things it deals with – movies, TV shows, home videos, iOS apps – its name “iTunes” doesn’t even fit.

Good luck to all involved.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Sarah,” “Dan K.,” and “Brawndo Drinker” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
With iTunes Music, Apple wants to help music labels roll back the tide of free digital music – March 6, 2015
Apple may release ‘iTunes Music’ with iOS 8.4 ‘Copper’ – February 9, 2015
iTunes Music: New Beats service will continue Apple’s reign as the king of digital music – February 4, 2015
Apple’s Beats-based music service plans revealed, including Apple’s first Android app – February 4, 2015


      1. Unfair! I dislike iTunes too, with a passion, and I’m very upset with the company for other reasons, but their products are the best around. Your personal attack on the poster says more about you than him.

      2. FU silverhawk. You swing around the goddamn troll label for anyone who doesn’t drink the Apple kool aid by the pitcher. Get a fucking clue. Apple is not perfect and those who identify Apple’s many screw-ups are doing Apple a favor.

    1. I agree that when it first debuted it didn’t work very well – the music drifted all over the place and would often repeat.

      That doesn’t happen anymore. It is actually quite good. It remains in the same genre and rarely ever plays a song more than once. I’ve found that it is a great way to discover “new” bands/artists as well.

  1. iTunes Radio is okay but not brilliant. Since I have iTunes match, the radio does not include ads.
    The key feature for me is being able to quickly buy a song using TouchID. It removes a barrier for buying a song you like on the radio since you can do it then and there with two taps (one to buy and one to authenticate).

  2. Having already got a large collection of music and increasingly listening to podcasts I just can’t see the point of spending money on music anymore. I might buy one or two albums worth of music a year which is fine.

  3. It’s an impending Apple service I have zero interest in. If it worked everywhere it might be a little more intriguing except for the data cost. Apple needs to get into the pipeline business making it more affordable and ubiquitous. All of these new Apple services and the future of tech is going to need a rethink on how to deliver all these new services with decent cost and bandwidth. The network pipes foundation right now on which all things lay is a little flaky and inconsistent right now.

  4. I’ve spent some quality time with iTunes 12 lately and I really like it. I don’t understand why it gets such a bad rap. The new UI for managing music and playlists is really great if you spend the minimal effort required to get used to it.

    1. Removing the ability to have multiple windows is a giant f*ck you to usability.

      I don’t want to have iTunes auto sync my iPod, because I manage it better than Apple can, but by all means, make it more difficult for me by removing the ability to have one window showing my library and one showing my iPod.
      Same with playlists, I want to compare a playlist with another that I’m editing, oh too bad, multiple windows might confuse a grandmother in Tulsa, better remove the ability to open multiple windows for everyone.

      Form over function UI that requires more clicks.
      Search results are dodgy.

      Another personal UI fave is the moving mini player /full size switch.
      In full window, it’s hidden in a rollover in the small square of album artwork. When in mini player view that same rollover is now the enlarge artwork button. It is MS level design to move a button or switch like that. The mini player / full size switch moves to the X button. You know, the x that everywhere else is close window.

      1. After using iTunes 12 for some time, I have to strongly disagree. iTunes 12 is designed to streamline functions, but you have to be open to adopting a slightly new workflow. Playlist management is a perfect example. It’s different and much better…

  5. Once upon a time, iTunes music was beautiful to look at and easy to organise. Today it is a dreary-looking Plain-Jane app that I use only for legacy purposes, as I have ‘000s of tracks on it.

    1. Streaming != Rental

      Those services didn’t stream music, they allowed you to download music to your devices and play them, but only while your subscription remained active.

  6. I get a strange, fearful feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I have to open iTunes. It has not evolved over the years, but regressed. After listening to free Pandora for several months, I decided to renew my subscription to it.

  7. Ya know, I’d probably love iTunes if it didn’t take a dog’s year to sync my iDevices, another dog’s year to update Apps (during which everything else is locked up), another dog’s year to open the Apps window for my iDevices, had some actually functionality like being able to alphabetize Apps once they are installed. Actually, the more I think about it , the more I realize I’ve been actively and audibly cursing iTunes for a few years now. And with the new version, I had to hunt and peck and dig to find things that were very obvious before. And, yeah, I have no interest whatsoever in a streaming service, especially one that costs any money at all. I listen to local FM college radio here in Boston, and I’ll lay any amount of coin on the table and claim there is no frakkin’ way any streaming service could beat the eclectic content of a station like WMBR, not to mention all the rest of them here. But it’s not that they’re losing me as a customer- I’ve never bothered with any of the streaming services, although I toyed with Pandora in its infancy.

    1. Syncing music via iTunes is a COMPLETE flustercuck now. Attempting to do so has bricked my iphone twice due to the randomly expanding “other” category. Doing it manually now.

      1. I agree. It got so bad for me that I ended up switching to iTunes Match. Of course the problem was that I have way too many songs in my library and Apple won’t let you pay more for a larger library. So, I now have my main library, and a secondary library that I use for iTunes Match, that’s really just for my iOS devices.

  8. All I was hoping for as an Apple shareholders was that Apple offered a price-competitive service so as not to end up far behind as a latecomer to the streaming music party. Now I see they’re going to charge more and without freebie service, they’ll also offer less. I think it puts Apple at a huge disadvantage. I’m not interested in the latest releases in music because I prefer to listen to music of bygone eras. I’ll pass on Apple’s offering because the ad-based versions of Pandora and Spotify are good enough for me and I also have Amazon Prime so I can also stream Amazon music. All the new Beats’ service meant to me was Apple having an additional revenue stream equal to or better than its peers. I’m guessing Beat’s market share will end up low at that price offering and won’t be very successful. That’s just my gut feeling. If Apple proves me wrong, I’ll be glad.

    I honestly don’t need any of those streaming services because I have a ten-thousand song library of music from the 50s to the 90s which is more than enough for me to listen to so Apple focusing on having exclusive hits means absolutely nothing to me. I would never have been a prime candidate for a paid Apple streaming service. I’m just disappointed that Apple with everything going for it might end up with some clunker streaming service which will be horribly criticized by the entire news media.

      1. Well, Darwin, then please explain their continued existence. You are essentially saying that Cook is a fool for buying Beats. Apple shouldn’t have wasted $3 billion on a streaming radio / plastic headphone company if that company doesn’t make any money.

  9. Another big problem with all of this is that iTunes Radio isn’t available on non-Apple platforms. If the new service is also restricted, that creates a problem for those of us who want to utilize one service across many devices and platforms, some of which Apple doesn’t compete with. For example Sonos is a wonderful product that compliments the Apple ecosystem, except for iTunes Radio.

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