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Beats 1 vs. iTunes Radio: The good, the bad, and the noisy

Oscar Raymundo | July 3, 2015
When Apple was tinkering with adding a new radio component to its just-launched music streaming service, the company opted to go for more of a BBC Radio 1 vibe than Pandora.

The rest of Radio: less human, more tolerable

Now that it includes Beats 1, Apple Music has rebranded iTunes Radio as just Radio. Apple kept iTunes Radio's featured stations, however, heavily centered on explicit genres like "Pure Pop" and "Country." Whereas these radio stations spawned from a Pandora-type algorithm, Apple now claims that these new featured stations have been "expertly refined by our music pros." You might notice that most playlists in Apple Music's For You and New sections have been created by "Apple Music Indie" or "Apple Music Pop." These former Beats Music tastemakers now also make sure there's a human feel to the radio stations. 

Radio has also kept the NPR and ESPN stations. Those are the only two news/talk radio stations you can listen to.

Fans of talk radio might find this disappointing, but if you're into the music stations--the sky is the limit. Like with iTunes Radio, you can also create a custom radio station from any song, album, or artist. Press the heart button on your favorite songs from Radio to give Apple Music a better sense for your taste and fine-tune the selection going forward. In addition to being able to view Radio songs on the iTunes Store, you can now add them to your Apple Music collection to play anytime on-demand.

Non-Apple Music subscribers will still be able to access Radio (both Beats 1 and the featured stations) via iTunes and the new Apple Music iOS app. However there will be audio ads ("Beats 1 is made possible by American Express") and limited skipping, as with Pandora and Songza.

The two iTunes Radio components that seem to be missing (or are not as prominent) in Radio are the Guest DJs and album premieres. Both Kylie Minogue and Diplo had an iTunes Radio Guest DJ stint where they played their favorite songs in between short spoken interludes where they shared their commentary. As for album premieres, artists like Calvin Harris gave iTunes Radio listeners access to stream his latest album in its entirety days before it went on sale on iTunes. However, both of these features--celeb DJs and exclusives--have sort of been rolled into the Beats 1 formula.


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