Apple is set to launch its
iTunes Radiostreaming-music service in the US in September, with brands including McDonald’s, Pepsi and Nissan among its advertisers.
Announced in June at the company’s WWDC event, iTunes Radio’s exact launch date has not yet been announced by Apple, beyond promising a debut in “Fall” as part of the release of the company’s new iOS 7 software for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.
Advertising industry site AdAge claims that September will be the US launch for iTunes Radio, though, which claims McDonald’s, Pepsi, Nissan and Procter & Gamble have committed to 12-month campaigns ranging in cost from “high single-digit millions of dollars to tens of millions of dollars”.
Its report claims that these plus one or two more brands will have exclusive deals for their industries until the end of 2013, before iTunes Radio adverts are opened up more widely to brands who agree to spend at least $US1m with Apple.
Ads are expected to run across iPhones, iPads, computers (within iTunes) and on televisions via the Apple TV set-top box, with listeners played one audio ad every 15 minutes and one video ad every hour, although iTunes Radio will be ad-free for people who pay for Apple’s iTunes Match cloud music service.
iTunes Radio will be US-only at launch, with not even a vague launch date confirmed for the service to roll out to the UK and other countries. “We’re starting in the US, and we’ll be adding other countries over time,” said Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue when he announced the service in June.
iTunes Radio will not be a direct competitor for streaming music services like Spotify, Deezer, Rhapsody and Rdio. It will not provide on-demand access for people to choose individual songs and albums to listen to.
Instead, it will compete directly with “personal radio” services like Pandora in the US, with listeners able to create streaming stations of music based on individual artists, songs and genres, or choose from those curated by Apple and guest artists.
Pandora is the most successful service in this space, reaching 71.2m active listeners in July 2013, and accounting for just over 7% of total US radio listening during that month, according to the company’s monthly audience metrics.
In its last full financial year, which ended on 31 January 2013, Pandora reported revenues of $US427.1m (£272.3m), with advertising accounting for $US375.2m of those revenues. 79% of the company’s listening happens on mobile devices, hinting at the potential for iTunes Radio, but also the threat it may pose to Pandora.
Personal radio-like features are becoming standard elements in the on-demand streaming services, though. Rdio’s recent launch of its Stations feature was just the latest example, while Spotify’s personal radio features are available for free in the US through its mobile apps, to attract people to its full, subscription-based service.
Meanwhile, another soon-to-launch digital music service, Beats Music, is making curated music playlists a key feature, fulfilling a similar role to the personalised stations on iTunes Radio, Pandora and other services.
GigaOm reports that Beats Music — an offshoot of headphones brand Beats — is getting artists and freelance music writers to create “thousands of playlists” lasting up to 70 minutes ready for its launch later in the year.
The closest direct equivalent to iTunes Radio in terms of features, however, is the Nokia Music app that is preloaded on that company’s Windows Phone smartphones. That service is ad-free, however, with the business model a combination of helping to sell more handsets, and persuading some users to upgrade to the subscription-based Nokia Music+ version.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk