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

Beats on Apple TV

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

iTunes Radio Image

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

Apple meeting with UK ad agencies in preparation for iTunes Radio rollout

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Apple appears to be readying for an UK iTunes Radio launch in the near future. As indicated by this tweet, Apple’s director of iAd Paul Wright has recently been visiting media marketing agencies to discuss iAd in relation to iTunes Radio.

Bloomberg said that Apple was planning to launch in the UK in ‘early 2014′ last October, but so far this has not happened several months into 2014. Although many people have seen iTunes Radio sporadically appear on their devices in recent months, it is has only officially expanded to Australia beyond the US launch alongside iOS 7.

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As rumors point to major iTunes renovations, Apple goes on hiring spree

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Amidst a flurry of reports and speculation regarding Apple’s iTunes Music Store and Radio strategy in the past few weeks, Apple has begun posting job listings indicating they are gearing up for major improvements to iTunes.

Four listings on Apple’s Jobs page show they are interested in hiring iTunes Software Engineers, a Senior Software Engineer for iTunes Radio, and an iTunes Recommendations Platform Software Engineer. From the descriptions:

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Digitimes: iWatch circuit board samples being delivered to Apple in preparation for September reveal

Concept: jivaldi.com

Concept: jivaldi.com

On Tuesday we reported that Apple was planning to reveal its entry into the wearable market in August or September. Now a new Digitimes report corroborates that timeframe. According to the new report, three different firms have supplied Apple with samples of flexible circuit boards that will be integrated into the iWatch for a fall release.

The companies involved are Flexium Interconnect, Career Technology, and Zhen Ding Technology Holding, according to Digitimes. Zhen Ding Technology Holding is currently Apple’s largest supplier of such parts and is reportedly planning to increase production in order to meet increased demand for iPhone and iPad circuitry.

As with all Digitimes reports, it’s probably best to take this with a grain of salt given their less-than-stellar track record. Read more