iTunes Radio is still the new kid on the block, but it’s quickly making a name for itself with consumers. After only six months of general availability, Apple’s streaming radio service has surpassed crowd pleaser Spotify as the third-ranked internet music platform, trailing only iHeartRadio and Pandora, the behemoth at the top.
A survey conducted by Edison Research, which polled 2,023 Americans aged 12 and older, concluded that 8 percent of US listeners have used iTunes Radio in the past month. The figure sits only one percentage point behind iHeartRadio, meaning Apple’s offering could easily jump into the number two spot by next month. Catching Pandora won’t be so easy. The dominant streaming music service was used by 31 percent of those participating the survey.
While Apple’s service does not offer the flexibility of Spotify, a platform offering on-demand music streaming of individual tracks and albums, it has largely risen to prominence thanks to its integration with iOS 7, which arrived as an update for older iPhones and iPads in September and ship with new models like the iPhone 5s and iPad Air. iTunes Radio’s reach is further expanded by its inclusion in iTunes for Mac and Windows PCs as well as its inclusion on Apple TV.
The large built-in userbase has made iTunes Radio the quick and easy go-to for many. More surprising, perhaps, is that much-heralded Spotify only accounts for 6 percent of the US listening audience. The figure is likely affected by Spotify’s reputation as a premium service requiring a subscription fee to unlock full functionality. iTunes Radio users can choose to pay a fee to eliminate ads (a fee that is integrated into the pre-existing iTunes Match service), but the listening experience does not differ much between Apple’s free and paid models.
Apple had been hesitant to enter the streaming music space, choosing instead to focus on its digital content store as a primary means of distribution. As times have changed along with consumer tastes, iTunes has seen a slight decrease in sales. Apple is hoping a new approach will change that; their growing streaming service may hold the key.