Beats Music’s Ian Rogers auctioning lunch in LA or Cupertino for charity

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Former Beats Music CEO and current Apple employee Ian Rogers is participating in a charity fundraiser through the online auction site Charitybuzz. With the estimated value pegged at $3,000, the fundraiser has a starting bid of $600, and runs for two weeks starting today. The highest bidder will have the opportunity to meet the former Beats Music CEO in either Los Angeles (where Beats is headquartered) or Cupertino (near Apple’s campus) for a private lunch meeting. Read more

Touching the dial: How iTunes Radio could be tuned for a better user experience

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iTunes Radio, Apple’s first real foray into streaming music, made its public debut back in June 2013, where it was announced alongside iOS 7. Over a year since its release, the service hasn’t exactly taken over the world, quite literally. It’s still only available in the United States and Australia. If you compared iTunes Radio today with iTunes Radio as it existed the day it was first available to use, you’ll notice that not much has really changed.

Of course, just last May, Apple announced its acquisition of Beats Electronics, which brought along with it Beats Music, a robust and almost entirely different approach to streaming music. While Apple may seek to integrate Beats Music more tightly with iTunes in the future, at this time it hasn’t.

So in the meantime, what could Apple do to make iTunes Radio more appealing to customers? Some might say the music selection is limited, or that streaming doesn’t always work correctly. However, focusing on the service strictly from a feature standpoint, there are many small changes and additions Apple could implement that would have a huge impact on the usefulness and utility of iTunes Radio. Let’s take a look.

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iTunes Radio is ad-free for all & offering $5 iTunes credits today courtesy of Verizon

iTunes Radio, Apple’s ad-supported Internet radio service, is today available with “limited interruptions” courtesy of Verizon. That means that you won’t be seeing the normal ads you’re used to on the service and instead just a message from Verizon that states, “Enjoy with limited interruptions courtesy of Verizon.” The company is also handing out $5 iTunes store credits through a banner ad on iTunes Radio (pictured above).

It’s not just for Verizon customers, however, as the offer comes today only as part of Verizon’s “Connection Day” promotion offering free digital content and services to all users, not just Verizon customers. Read more

Looking to revamp Beats Music at a lower rate, Apple asks music labels to cut streaming prices

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Last month Apple was rumored to be looking for a way to shut down the current version of the Beats Music streaming service that it acquired as part of the Beats Electronics deal, though the claim of a shutdown was quickly shot down in favor of an upcoming rebranding effort.

Today Re/code has revealed a bit more about Apple’s plans for the new service, which is expected to be revealed in February, according to some reports. According to Re/code, Apple wants to cut the price of the streaming service below the current $10 mark, and it’s asking music companies to cut a special deal on licensing rights to accomplish that.

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Rdio preps revamped music streaming app with a focus on free stations

The Rdio music streaming service is preparing to release an updated version of its mobile app later today will place a new focus on its free “stations” feature as competitors like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple’s one-two punch of iTunes Radio and Beats Music crank up the pressure on the service.

Rdio claims its free music library is as much as fifteen times bigger than those of competing apps. Like other online radio services, the new Rdio will automatically create playlists and stations from that library based on a user’s music preferences. Curated stations from musicians and other celebrities will also be available, much like in iTunes Radio.

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Decline of music downloads continues as on-demand streaming audio up 50 percent

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Apple’s presumed plans for an on-demand music service as part of its Beats acquisition is looking increasingly well-timed as Nielsen data shows that U.S. on-demand music consumption climbed 50.1 percent year-on-year, while music downloads fell by 12 percent in the same timeframe.

“With On-Demand streams surpassing 70 billion songs in the first six months of 2014, streaming continues to be an increasingly significant portion of the music industry,” says David Bakula, SVP Nielsen Entertainment …

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iTunes Radio streaming is now free on T-Mobile, other services also included

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T-Mobile has just announced at its “Uncarrier 5.0″ event (which apparently double as the Uncarrier 6.0 event) that all streaming music services will now be free to stream on T-Mobile, including iTunes Radio. This also applies to Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, and Spotify.

Any streaming you do will always be done over the company’s fastest available network, and won’t count towards your high-speed data limit.

Customers can visit T-Mobile’s website to request new services to be added to the “music freedom” selection. As streaming services gain votes, they will be added to the program.

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Report: Apple planning to introduce locally targeted ads, additional non-music content to iTunes Radio

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(Image via Apple)

According to a new report from The Information, Apple is planning to offer “locally targeted advertising” to users through its iTunes Radio platform sometime this year. The report also says Apple is planning on working with “broadcast radio stations” to increase the amount of content it offers on the platform. This additional content would focus on non-music offerings that would further expand Apple’s content streaming platform. Earlier this week, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is planning to introduce several local NPR stations as well as sports content from ESPN to iTunes Radio… Read more

Apple brings ESPN and 42 local NPR stations to iTunes Radio

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Hot on the heels of the announcement that Apple had acquired the Beats Music streaming service for $3 billion to help bolster its own struggling competitor, 9to5Mac has learned that Apple is introducing a new ESPN station for iTunes Radio. The station will include original ESPN programs like SportsCenter All Night, SVP and Russillo, The Herd, and Mike & Mike.

The ESPN station will also stream the World Cup, making it the first live sporting event to be streamed live through iTunes Radio.

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Spotify CEO: I’ve always assumed Apple would offer a streaming service

If Apple does indeed reach a deal to acquire Beats Electronics and announce it this week as expected, the clock is once again counting down to offer up your take on the whole scenario before it’s actually official. Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson got that opportunity earlier this week thanks in part to Dan Lyons of Fake Steve Jobs fame; Isaacson told Lyons he believes the expected $3.2 billion acquisition by Apple is all about creating a world class video service led by Beats’ co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

But when you think about Beats and what the company has to offer for Apple, the subscription music service launched by the company in January earlier this year comes to mind. Spotify, of course, dominates in this space as seen by the company’s announcement today that they now have 10 million paid subscribers and 40 million active users. Read more

iTunes Radio streaming Coldplay’s upcoming ‘Ghost Stories’ album for free on First Play

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iTunes Radio has quickly become the best source for unreleased albums by huge artists, and today the service added yet another high-profile artist. Ahead of its highly anticipated release on May 19th, you can now stream Coldplay’s new album Ghost Stories in its entirety on iTunes via its First Play feature.

In the past, iTunes Radio has streamed albums by The Black Keys, Eminem, Pharrell, and Rick Ross, attempting to compete with services like Spotify and Rdio. Neither of those, however, offer any sort of early streaming capabilities like iTunes Radio.

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Opinion: What is Apple’s thinking in spending $3.2B on buying Beats?

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Apple’s apparent purchase of Beats took everyone by surprise. I must confess that my immediate reaction was to be slightly appalled. As someone whose audio tastes run more to B&O and B+W, I’ve always viewed Beats headphones as over-bassed, over-priced fashion items. But then my tastes in music admittedly differ somewhat from those of the typical Beats customer.

Even so, it’s still a little baffling at first glance. Tim Cook himself said a year ago that Apple asks two questions when considering an acquisition:

Would it help us make a great product, and would the culture fit at Apple?

My immediate answer to both would be “no,” so why would Apple spend $3.2B on a headphone manufacturer with a small sideline streaming music service … ?  Read more