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Let The Music Play On: iTunes Radio Arrives Soon With Siri Support

By   /  September 11, 2013  /  No Comments

Does the leading Internet radio service Pandora, which is based on Pandora Media’s Music Genome Project, have anything to fear from Apple?

Apple’s iPhone 5C and 5S smartphones, formally launched yesterday, boast the new iOS 7 operating system to be officially released next week, and that means they also boast iTunes Radio. Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering, talked about the expected feature at the launch, according to reports, discussing how users can create their own stations from favored artists, songs and genres, a la Pandora.

iTunes Radio will be available to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, and Apple TV users. As consumers use iTunes Radio more, it will get to know their tastes to deliver more of what they like. Pandora, which just celebrated the 5-year anniversary of its iPhone app in July, works by letting users pop in a favorite artist, song, or genre name for the Music Genome Project to scan against the million or so pieces of music it’s already analyzed by their various attributes, with music “genes” related to characteristics like type of background vocals or gender of lead vocalist, to find options with similar musical features.

Users of Pandora can create up to 100 stations leveraging five genomes — Pop/Rock, Hip-Hop/Electronica, Jazz, World Music, and Classical. Earlier this month, Pandora noted that Indian classical music now has been translated into the language of the Music Genome Project.

As for Apple and iTunes Radio, users can turn to Siri to ask it to handle some of the work around suiting their musical mood. If you’re currently listening to Hip Hop, for instance, Apple says you can tell Siri to “Play more like this,” as well as ask for it to play any favorite genres or stations or to provide more details on a piece, like what song it is or who is the artist. And now, it looks like Siri can answer you in a male voice, as well as its female one, too.

There’s clearly an ecosystem advantage play by Apple: It touts, for instance, that it’s using the access the iTunes music store has to thousands of new songs every week to give iTunes Radio users the opportunity to hear some of those pieces first, too. All stations are stored in iCloud, as well, so there’s no syncing between devices necessary if users stop playing a station on one device; it will just pick up on the other.

Please Don’t Stop The Music

Meanwhile, there’s more movement in the semantically-directed music space. Seevl, which recently let users sign up for the beta release of its new music discovery platform service for YouTube, is giving more insight into features to find on seevl.fm. These include the ability for users to watch their favorite YouTube music videos while discovering other music with recommendations from your friends, and, as they are reading about an artist they are listening to with its “Liner Notes” feature, to view the video in full screen mode or minimise it. Users can build a playlist by adding new videos as they discover them. (See our recent discussion of Seevl’s existing free music discovery service for YouTube and Deezer here.)

Last.fm, the music recommendation service that collaborates with MusicBrainz, the open-source music metadata database and community whose technology helps uniquely identify artists, labels, songs and so on, also is touting on Twitter its new “now playing” screen for showing off what users are scrobbling. Scrobbling, in Last.fm lingo, is a note the service gets about what songs you’re playing the most, how much you’ve played a particular artist, who among your friends has similar tastes, and such to aid in delivering personalized recommendations. The service says it compares what each user plays to the scrobbles of millions of listeners around the world, so that  recommendations are the result of more than 43 billion scrobbles.

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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