UK gets iTunes Radio early

I’m not sure if it’s really early or whether it’s really here as in here to stay but as of this morning, iTunes Radio is available in the UK.

It doesn’t look finished – the US one has a lot of “featured stations” and this UK one has none – so it might just be another blip and it’ll go away again. But I’ve been enjoying the US iTunes Radio a lot, it’s a very good service.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s like Spotify or Pandora or any of those in that it streams music at you with the odd ad. Doesn’t sound exactly headline news so far but the way you can be listening to your own music and then on a whim switch to it, I’ve been quite addicted.

But it has been disconcerting. I could try it when the service was only available in the States because I have a US iTunes Store account but there’s a geo- and chrono- kind of problem with that. I’d click on its Eighties Hits radio station and find I’d never heard or even heard of maybe half of the tracks. Pop Gold seemed more universal, or at least to have more British music.

Funny: my favourite artists – quick list, Dar Williams, Suzanne Vega, Bruce Springsteen, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow – are all American or at least not British. So I wouldn’t expect to notice a lack of British music but I really did. I think one gets surrounded by the music of one’s time and one’s place much more than I had realised.

So I’ve enjoyed discovering that and thinking about it. But I’ve also often switched away from the featured stations like that to ones based on those favourite artists of mine. Unlike some services, if you pick a station based on one artist you don’t get a huge amount of that artist. The first track after you’ve created the station is always theirs but thereafter you’ll go quite a long time before hearing them again. Sometimes that’s fine: you get similar artists or ones that people who like your favourite have also liked and I’ve enjoyed hearing a lot of new music. 

But sometimes you do long for more of that particular artist and that’s when I tend to go back to my own iTunes collection.

Mind you, I have a thing. There will be a song that gets in my head and I love it so much that I will play it over and over and over, often literally repeating it. Play the song, let iTunes nip on to the next track – and think no, I fancy that again, tap, tap and we’re back.

I’ll play them so much that eventually I come to hate them. So over the years I’ve built up a playlist in iTunes of music that I used to be besotted with and now can’t bear. Um. Something wrong there.

Especially since I keep coming back to this playlist that I call Discoveries. (I don’t know why I called it that.) Of all the music I’ve got, I keep coming back to this list. 

Do you know those blogs where the writer lists the current track they’re listening to as they write to you? I’ve never done that. I may never again do it. But for your information, I’m listening to iTunes Radio which is playing me Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel in its Classic Rock Radio. I’m not sure you needed to know that but I appear to need to tell you.

Normally I’d now tell you where you can get iTunes Radio in the UK but if you have iTunes and you’re in the UK, you’ve got it already. Even if you didn’t realise. Open iTunes, choose Music from the drop down list of media and across the top you’ll see Radio. It’s in that line of headings Songs, Albums, Artists and so on. 

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