Story by Katie Ericson
Online radio stations created new ways to listen to music, and some big companies are trying to dominate the scene.
Pandora is one of the most popular, while iTunes just released iTunes Radio. Though they are similar, there are differences between the two.
Pandora has a massive music database. Known as the Music Genome Project, Pandora works to compile as much music as possible.
However, a downside is that listeners are only allowed to skip six songs per hour and 12 total per day. After those skips, you have no way of avoiding unwanted songs.
Also, while users can listen to music as long as they want to for free, Pandora inserts advertisements between songs. These cannot be skipped unless users buy Pandora One. The yearly subscription costs $36, or $3.99 a month.
All advertisements are removed, the sound quality is upgraded, and there are more skips per day.
iTunes Radio uses songs listeners already bought and plays music similar to ones interest.
Each station is personalized since users can click, “Play more like this,” or “Never play this song.” Users can also click “buy now” or add the song to their wish lists and get it directly from iTunes.
Music is stored in iCloud, which gives listeners the ability to switch devices while listening to the same station.
Siri also works with iTunes Radio. The digital assistant can tell users the artist, skip the song or add songs to a wish list.
However, like Pandora, iTunes Radio has advertisements between songs. To avoid comercials, users must buy iTunes Match for $24.99 a year.
If it seems strange that the site that sold music is broadcasting it for free, Assistant Professor of Journalism Jeff Inman has an explanation.
“I believe that, with iTunes Radio, Apple is responding to the success of streaming services. The number of people shifting their listening to free distribution, advertising supplemented platforms is beginning to have an impact on the number of sales Apple was getting through iTunes,” Inman said.
With its lower premium price and perks like Siri, it will be interesting to see if iTunes Radio poses a threat. Yet there is a problem when comparing these stations. Professor of Journalism Todd Evans said.
“iTunes radio is the new kid on the block, so it’s kind of early to see how it will fare in the coming months.”
It is easy to compare Pandora and iTunes based on facts alone, but there is one final factor in their success to be considered — terrestrial radio.
“Despite the number of devices I have, including iPhone, iPad, laptops, desktops and XM satellite in my car, I still prefer listening to terrestrial radio,” Evans said.
There is a wide range of radio stations that are not online but are still succeeding.
Mariah Lewis, the program director of 94.1 The Dog defended, terrestrial radio.
“I think classic airways aren’t dead. They’re a completely different experience,” Lewis said. You don’t have that connection, that sense of identification (with online radio). I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Listeners get a kick out of classic radio.”