Rumours surrounding Apple’s upcoming “iRadio” service are coming fast, with a recent report claiming that negotiations with record companies are in the final stages. This means that iRadio could be unveiled sometime in the near future, likely at Apple’s WWDC conference in June. Although there is one big question that still remains unanswered, how will iRadio integrate with Apple’s existing iTunes Store?
As CNET reported earlier this month, iTunes will work hand in hand with iRadio to create an incredible music service. “That includes a quick way for consumers to buy a song they hear, potentially boosting download sales from iTunes, as well as a revenue share of new audio ads Apple is planning to add to the free service, according to sources.” This will be the basis for iRadio, as the iTunes Store is already completely established, leaving Apple the task of simply integrating the two into one comprehensive product. However, Apple may have already started this process, slowly introducing the concept of iRadio, albeit in a restricted manner.
Over the past few months, iTunes has provided streaming of several upcoming albums on the iTunes Store, notably David Bowie and the Birds of Tokyo’s latest. Approximately two weeks before the album’s release, iTunes provided exclusive streaming to anybody, to get a feel for the album before its actual release. In fact, Apple has done this on a number of occasions in the past, with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers also having their album streamed before release back in 2011.
Although this only occurs for a limited number of albums, it could have larger ramifications come the release of iRadio. Apple still relies on iTunes Store sales for a large amount of profit, and it’s clear they do not want to see sales from it drop dramatically upon the release of iRadio. Therefore, iRadio may largely work in conjunction with the iTunes Store in order to introduce listeners to new music, before they consider buying, just as iTunes is doing with free streaming of upcoming albums.
Unlike Spotify or Rdio, Apple already has a music purchasing system in place, and this needs to have an affect on how they run iRadio. In this way, iRadio can extend the music discovery capabilities of iTunes, while still pushing for the actual purchase of the music through the store. Whereas Apple currently only offers a 90 second preview of songs, iRadio can stream the entire song to listeners, enticing them with the concept of actually purchasing the song/album for themselves.
This would abolish any need a listener would have to visit another streaming service to hear an entire album before buying, because it would all be available in the one area, iTunes.
Importantly, Apple could possibly strike a sweet deal with the record companies allowing for more streaming of unreleased albums, and this could truly present them with a golden opportunity. With exclusive access to an album before its actual release, listeners would flock to iTunes to listen, and it would establish Apple as the dominant player in both the music purchasing, and the music streaming departments.