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Apple to shut down free iTunes Radio music streaming

Apple has announced that iTunes Radio is to be discontinued from the end of January, leaving Beats 1 as its only free music streaming option.

iTunes Radio provides preloaded stations – like ’90s Dance Hits or ADELE Radio – plus the option to create a personalized station on the fly based on the user inputting a favorite artist or song. The service is free with ad support, and like the similar service Pandora it offers a limited number of skips.

Apple is still to provide a free, ad-supported radio service: Beats 1, the live broadcast station run by DJs from London, New York and Los Angeles. Unlike iTunes Radio, the music played isn’t based on user input, but it does feature programming from a host of stars like Dr. Dre, Elton John and St Vincent. Crucially, it’s accessible without needing an Apple Music subscription.

The ad-free version of iTunes Radio currently available as a perk of the iTunes Match service is also due to disappear, leaving the paid Apple Music service as the only option for customized radio stations. Apple Music subscribers will still be able to choose or create personalized stations in addition to the other features of the service.

It seems as though Apple wants to encourage more users to try Beats 1, which itself could be a gateway to a full Apple Music subscription. Removing the iTunes Radio perk from iTunes Match may also convince users of that service to ‘upgrade’ to Apple Music, which offers similar music-matching to iTunes Match. It’s a shame for those who have gotten used to iTunes Radio since it launched in 2013, though. The service will shut down on 28th January 2016.