Apple appears to be looking to further improve the iTunes Radio service through the $30 million acquisition of a radio application called Swell, Re/code reported early Monday morning. Unlike the $3 billion Beats Electronics (and Beats Music) buyout, however, this purchase centers more on talk radio than music.
Swell currently carries news from sources such as NPR, ABC, ESPN, the BBC, and more, and uses a user’s listening history to create personalized content playlists. Apple, on the other hand, only recently jumped into the streaming news market through iTunes Radio with ESPN and NPR stations, including over 40 local stations.
(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 and Shazam are teaming up to build a music identification feature natively into iOS, according to a Bloomberg report. The feature will allow users to find the name and artist of a song that’s playing, likely with the option to download the song from the iTunes Store or create an new iTunes Radio station.
Unlike some of Apple’s other music-releated features (such as Podcasts and iTunes U), the system will be built into the OS directly rather than require a separate download. So far there isn’t any confirmation of whether this feature will appear in iOS 8 or a later version, but with WWDC right around the corner, Apple will need to work quickly to secure the deal if the feature is to be announced with the next-gen software update.
Leading up to the unveiling of Apple’s new iTunes Radio service earlier this month at WWDC, we reported on some small details regarding deals Apple had reached with the major labels necessary to get bring its Pandora competitor to market. Earlier reports claimed that Apple was paying Warner around 10% of ad revenue– that’s around twice as much as Pandora reportedly pays. Today, The Wall Street Journal provides us with some in-depth info on what Apple is paying labels and publishers after taking a look at the terms of the deal.
Apple will in fact be paying well over the 0.12 cents per listen Pandora offers the labels, as well as a percentage of ad revenue, and the payout will also increase during the service’s second year:
During iTunes Radio’s first year, Apple will pay a label 0.13 cents each time a song is played, as well as 15% of net advertising revenue, proportionate to a given label’s share of the music played on iTunes. In the second year, that bumps up to 0.14 cents per listen, plus 19% of ad revenue.
However, there are some exceptions. The report notes that Apple won’t have to pay royalties for songs that users already have in their iTunes library. That will apparently extend to “songs that might be on an album that a listener owns just part of.” Interestingly, Apple also won’t pay for songs skipped before the 20 second mark and those included in special promotions, but it can only skip paying royalties on two songs per hour for each iTunes Radio user: Read more
There were no shortage of details regarding Apple’s much rumored radio service leading up to today’s keynote address. The rumors said Apple was planning on introducing a free, ad-supported radio service, similar to Pandora, that would be highly integrated with a tweaked model for its iAd business. Apple has now officially unveiled the service dubbed ‘iTunes Radio’ and provided some details on exactly how it will work during its keynote presentation this morning at Moscone West in San Francisco.
The new iTunes Radio app is built in to the iOS radio app, and works on the Mac and Apple TV as well. As rumored, iTunes Radio will be free, supported by ads. In a twist, however, iTunes Radio will be completely free (free of ads) if you’re a subscriber to iTunes Match:
The Music app has a beautiful new design and includes the new iTunes Radio, a free Internet radio service featuring over 200 stations and an incredible catalog of music from the iTunes Store®, combined with features only iTunes can deliver. iTunes Radio is the best way to discover new music. When you tune into iTunes Radio on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac®, PC or Apple TV®, you’ll have access to stations inspired by the music you already listen to, Featured Stations curated by Apple and genre-focused stations that are personalized just for you.
As we reported prior to today’s event, the underlining technology is based on Apple’s iTunes Genius feature with iTunes Radio tailoring the experience to your iTunes usage. Apple says there will be Siri integration, and also aims to offer users “access to exclusive “first listen” premieres from top selling artists.” Read more
Following several reports from earlier this week claiming Apple’s much rumored free, ad-supported radio service would be tightly integrated with its iAd business, AdAge claims to have more details on how ads will work in the service.
In case you were wondering whether or not the ads would be audio ads or traditional app-like iAds, AdAge says both:
The audio ads will be sold via iAd, Apple’s mobile ad network, according to a former Apple executive with knowledge of the situation. In addition to audio ads, the streaming music service will also contain the mobile ads iAd currently sells.
The aim of the ad-supported service, which according to the report’s sources will not include the ability to search or play specific songs on-demand, is to drive song downloads to iTunes.
The report adds that a spokesperson for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the one major publisher that reportedly hasn’t made deal with Apple yet, said the company “is optimistic it will sign a deal with Apple soon.” Read more
We’ve heard no end of rumors of a streaming Radio player from Apple. We even found pay radio buttons in the iPad’s music player app code earlier this year:
The Apple radio service, once rumored for late 2012 to Q1/2013, has now been pushed back to mid-late 2013 because of difficulty signing the labels. Today the Verge says that Warner is all but signed up at rates comparable to what Pandora pays the labels – which is to say a lot. Earlier reports put Apple’s asking price much lower.
Apple is expected to sign its first interner radio licensing agreement with a major record label perhaps as soon as next week, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks have told The Verge…Apple initially offered to pay 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays. Now, Apple will pay rates nearly “neck and neck” with Pandora, one of the sources said.
Update: CNET reports that Universal is also close to signing and that Apple is hoping to go into a dozen territories by summer:
The press has dubbed the service iRadio, in negotiations with the labels Apple is referring to it as its “new streaming service,” says a source…Apple is building some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song…Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.
We’re hoping that Apple has an announcement to make at WWDC, if not earlier.