is officially a player in the streaming radio sweepstakes (sorry, Pandora
). Not that this comes as any surprise, mind you, what with months of rumors
and leaked information
suggesting that Apple was finalizing deals with the three major music labels -- Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony -- all of which will get a cut. Details of the royalty rate and other financial particulars were not disclosed, but Apple shared plenty of other tidbits about its iTunes Radio service.
As expected, the service formerly referred to as iRadio and now known is iTunes Radio is a free Internet radio service. It features over 200 stations and an "incredible catalog" of music from the iTunes Store. When you tune in from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, or Apple TV (phew!), you'll gain access to all the stations, including Featured stations curated by Apple. According to Apple, the more you use iTunes Radio and iTunes, the better it will be at knowing what you like to listen to.
"iTunes Radio is an incredible way to listen to personalized radio stations which have been created just for you," said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. "It’s the music you love most and the music you’re going to love, and you can easily buy it from the iTunes Store with just one click."
Thousands of new songs will be added each week, including exclusive music from new and and popular artists, Apple says. iTunes Radio will also host special events like live streams.
Similar to competing services, you'll be able to create stations based on songs that you like, and then customize your listening preferences as you go. Unlike other services, however, Siri will stick her head in the cloud and help you identify songs. You'll be able to ask Siri "Who plays that song?" or have her "Play more like this," to name two examples.
As for cost, iTunes Radio is ad-supported and free to use. iTunes Match users, on the other hand, will enjoy an ad-free experience, which isn't bad considering it costs just $25 per year.