iTunes Radio – a nice new feature – and info about skipping songs

Tech tip: rating – complete novice.

One of the new features of the latest iTunes 11.1 – and also found in the iOS 7 upgrade for iPhones and iPads – is iTunes Radio. It’s a streaming music feature that lets you play unlimited songs for free in genres (stations) you can select from – or you can create your own stations based on artist, song or song type. The basic features are at http://www.apple.com/itunes/itunes-radio/.

I think anybody who likes music would enjoy trying it. I assume it works on Windows iTunes as well.

Note: This feature is only available to people with U.S. iTunes accounts. Hint: It doesn’t matter where you physically are – what matters is where your iTunes account is located.

My initial impression was “cool!” Then I got frustrated because I wanted to skip songs that weren’t interesting to me. I really don’t want to hear “This is just another silly love song.”

The problem, though, was that after skipping a few songs I was stuck. It wouldn’t let me skip any more. After that, every time I returned to the station I had to listen to the rest of the last song or I couldn’t go on. It was like being stuck in some sort of song purgatory. I was wondering, “If their purpose is to sell me songs I like, why don’t they let me freely skip over the songs I don’t like?”

Anyway, after some research I realized the rationalization for it, and what the actual limitations are, and it isn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, understanding and working through the limits makes the feature seem very reasonable and fun.

  1. You can skip again after an hour. The limit is 6 song skips per hour per station.
  2. You can always create a similar station and get 6 more skips per hour.
  3. The reason has to do with royalties. Apparently Apple has to pay some kind of royalty whenever a song is played, even if the listener skips and goes on to the next song in the middle.

Understanding how and why it works makes it seem not so bad and, in fact, interesting. Today, while working (yes, I actually did some work today too) I found myself listening to a lot more music than I usually do, outside my somewhat limited collection. It’s a fun feature.

If you have a computer or device that’s compatible I recommend trying it. Your musical horizons will be expanded. For free.


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