Now iTunes Radio is rubbish

I like it. I was listening to iTunes Radio for some hours this morning. Did get sick of the ads again, but I like the music and I’m not sure I’m alone in this. But allegedly, reportedly, I am because rivals Pandora and Spotify are far better – and because Apple was too arrogant to see this.

“Pandora is an awesome radio that blows iTunes Radio out of the water. Seriously, iTunes Radio sucks and it sucks because of Apple’s arrogance,” one former, mid-level [Apple] employee said. “I was floored by the decision-making skills by management over and over again.”

Apple employees confirmed that management actively ignored iTunes’ streaming competitors, with some managers refusing to open or use Spotify. One source said that as recently “as last year,” some members of management didn’t even know that Spotify was an on-demand streaming service, assuming it was just a radio service.

“The management in particular were pretty much tone-deaf in what Spotify was and that’s why they’re panicking now,” the source said. “They didn’t understand how Spotify worked, which is why they thought iTunes Radio would be a Spotify killer.”

“Arrogant” Apple Managers are the Reason Apple Needs Beats – Aylin Zafar, Buzzfeed (5 June 2014)

I don’t know. It has the ring of truth yet the piece as a whole is so down on iTunes Radio that I doubt the details. Still, it’s an interesting read and if right, may mean that Apple’s new purchase of Beats will lead to something better.

It’s an ugly headline that has Apple in it twice but otherwise you believe those quotes, don’t you?

So, about those Beats headphones

Please picture us having a mug of tea and chatting entirely without the aid of research or statistics, possibly therefore without even facts.

Beats headphones aren’t as good as we’re told.

I was in the aforementioned tea and chat situation last night with a friend. Where you might and a surprising (to me) number of people turn to me for information about Apple, this friend is the guy you would and I do turn to for anything to do with music and hifi.

Let’s call him Steve.

No reason.

I asked Steve about Beats music because I hadn’t heard of it before Apple was in talks to buy the service, its headphones and its people. Steve had heard of it before. He can even pronounce the name of its head guy, Jimmy Iovine, with confidence.

He agrees with just about most things we suspect: he thinks that yes, Apple bought Beats in order to get Iovine. He knows his streaming music and why Beats is considered good at it even though it hasn’t very many listeners compared to Spotify.

But the other thing he knows, as an audiophile, is that the Dr Dre headphones by Beats are not perfect. He doesn’t like them at all but I went searching online and found a lot of praise from them for various corners of the audiophile universe. Except Steve’s problem with them is a problem for every review and every reviewer I could find: these headphones are made to suit bass-heavy music.

Great if you like bass, not so much if you don’t. And despite my being a rubbish audiophile, I don’t like the idea of artificially whacking up the bass on a recording: I know what work goes into making a mix and even if I can’t get it to its best effect, I won’t deliberately change it.

There’s this WWDC announcement tonight. Nobody knows what’s going to be talked about – not really – but maybe Beats will come up in the presentation. I have had such a good time with Apple gear, it has helped me so much, that when Apple brings out something new I will at least hear about it, I will probably take a look. I don’t think I’ll be buying Beats headphones.

Six months with iTunes Radio

It’s still not available in the UK but it’s coming and what we’ll get here is a tried-and-tested version. I’ve been listening here in the UK since about December – I have both US and UK iTunes accounts so I can legally tune in – and the service has developed even in that short time.

Primarily, it’s added more ads.

You know that it’s an ad-supported service. Every few tracks, you get an ad. Interestingly, they’re usually video ads so while I often have iTunes way in the background behind a lot of other documents, there’ll be a corner visible and suddenly it’ll start moving. Very distracting.

But it’s become more distracting because at first there were so few ads that you noticed how few there were. Now you notice how many – and at times you notice how often the same ones are played. For a while there I could tell you every line of a Macy’s advert.

We can expect that the same thing will happen in the UK: it feels less that Apple has a plan for how many ads it will ramp up, more that it depends how many it gets. A few firms will try it out at first and then it’ll take off it won’t.

But now it also looks as if there will be more programmes, more actual non-music programmes. Right now it has none whatsoever. But US sources – you think that means rumour sites and it does, but – say that Apple is going to stream the World Cup over iTunes Radio.

Exit William.

I do recommend iTunes Radio but it depends on your starting choice. The way it works is that you type in the name of a song, an artist, a genre or perhaps a decade and you get a station. That station might start with the particular song, it might start with that particular artist, or it might not.

After very, very many different stations, I plucked “4 Non Blondes” out of the air because I like What’s Up. And it’s been a great find: I’m sure I must’ve heard What’s Up on it some time but generally I love everything it’s played me as well.

Sometimes I’m iTunes Radioed out and in principle I like the idea of spoken-word shows but I keep coming back. I just want to see what happens when Apple absorbed its new purchase, the Beats subscription service.

Read more about iTunes Radio on Apple’s site