A decade ago, Apple transformed the music business with its iTunes store. Now what the music industry expects from Apple is less of a revolution than a helping hand.
Apple’s newest music feature, iTunes Radio, will be released on Sept. 18 as part of its iOS 7 system update, the company announced on Tuesday. The service is a sleek take on Internet radio, and Apple’s ability to place the app on millions of its devices gives it an enormous potential audience from Day 1.
“It’s a huge opportunity on a global basis to accelerate the transition of radio listeners and advertising dollars from terrestrial to digital,” said Stephen Bryan, the executive vice president for digital strategy at the Warner Music Group, which releases music by Green Day, Bruno Mars and hundreds of other acts.
The service is a threat to Pandora Media, which dominates Internet radio. But music and advertising executives say that the magnitude of that threat is unclear, given Apple’s relatively late entry into streaming music and Pandora’s strong market position. Both offer free streams of music tailored to a user’s taste and supported by advertising. In August, Pandora had 72.1 million active users — almost all in the United States — who streamed 1.35 billion hours of music, according to data released by the company.