iTunes Radio is being maliciously stupid now

I used to like iTunes Radio, but it seems like the crew has abandoned ship and the service is crashing hard. It’s actually gone from questionable song choices to downright maliciously stupid. I swear it just tries to upset me.

My parents were in town for a visit recently and while we were driving, I thought I’d put on some 70s music for them. You know, classic rock songs that they would know.

I tried iTunes Radio and this is what I got:

itunesradio

This song was released in 2008. The rest of the selection from iTunes Radio was no better.

Jon B.: They Don’t Know (1997)
Anthony David: 4evermore (2011)
Conya Doss: Ain’t Giving Up (2005)
Eric Roberson: Picture Perfect (2011)

Clearly none of these are in the genre Apple listed them under in iTunes Radio.

70sradio

So I fired up Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and iHeart Radio. Each of those services delivered some nice 70s music like I wanted.



  • Obsidian71

    Imagine my horror when I wanted to play some music in Spanish and after 30 minutes Pitbull songs started playing. #DoOver

    • Why would anyone listen to that narcissistic Bozo?

  • That’s not a premade station. I searched “70” in iTunes Radio and founds ’70s Hits, ’70s Pop Hits, etc., but no “70’s” station. Doesn’t match the name format (or appropriate spelling of ’70s).

    • Al

      I am eager to see Jim’s response to this. I’ve never had iTunes Radio behave in the manner he describes.

      • TWF

        I have. Once I had it throw a jazz song in the Classic Rock playlist.

        I haven’t used it for a few months, but I know the selection wasn’t great either; “Classical Chill” tended to repeat a fair amount, and the ads were pretty bad.

        • Al

          One song is not the behavior described here.

    • Box of Cotton Swabs

      Yeah, that second screenshot with the bold/not bold formatting of “70’s Radio” is a user-created station which, if I wanted to be conspiratorial, the tight crop kind of hides.

      And since a search for “70’s” comes up with no exact match, the only way to get that station would be to key it off who-knows-what and then edit it to rename as “70’s Radio.”

      If you were looking to play, you know, classic rock songs that they would know, I don’t know why you wouldn’t pick the “Classic Rock” station off the Featured Stations scrolling band (which for me played Tom Petty, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, The Who, and Marshall Tucker before my skips ran out).

  • Bill

    Can’t agree. I am very happy with iTunes Radio selections. Though I never had a 70’s station, I just created one and the first songs were..

    All by myself, Eric Carmen Everything I own, Bread Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg

    ..so no real problem here. Maybe a bug on your device? Don’t condemn iTunes that easily. I have discovered great music through this service. We all want a better streaming music service from Apple, but there Radio selections are a thing to keep in whatever is coming this June..

  • josh dyson

    It’s possible somebody got their wires crossed; maybe this station used to exist, but no such station does any more. Perhaps it shared a behind-the-scenes ‘station ID’ with whatever it is that has replaced it. Try ’70s Hits instead.

  • msechea

    Jim,

    This seems like a less likely time to comment on iTunes Radio’s shortcomings, seeing as how we all know good and well that it was a filler service while they work on a true full-fledged competitor, Beats Music, which you left out at the end of your post. Are there any other examples of misservice by iTunes Radio that you can quote besides the malnurished 70s station?

    • Prof. Peabody

      Indeed. The fact that iTunes radio has yet to be offered anywhere but the USA kind of cements this point of view. It’s just waiting to die.

      Personally, I don’t know why anyone would use streaming music services at all, when there are literally tens of thousands of completely free “internet Radio” stations. If you know what to look for, the best ones are advert free and payment free as well.

      • msechea

        I group iTunes Radio right along with the ill-fated MobileMe service, so ambitious yet severly lacking when it comes to Apple hardware. Apple seems to be most out of touch with music in general, still heralding musicians like U2/Bono as who Apple customers actually like…forced album anyone..please?? The addition of the Beats posse is something of a desperate attempt at competing levelly with the Pandora’s and Spotify’s of the business (not to mention stupid profit margins from a subpar performing, extremely well-marketed personal audio line).

        iTunes Radio/Match is a hobby service, hardly worth even putting in the rankings with the other streaming giants.

        • Prof. Peabody

          I think you are being really critical of Beats without really knowing much about it. I haven’t experienced it myself as, like I said, I use Internet Radio. From the description of the product though, it would seem to be far better than Pandora or Spotify. The key being curated instead of robot created streams. Nothing beats curation. Apple’s “Genius” being only the most obvious example of why non-curated lists fail.

      • Rick Deckard

        iTunes Radio has also been available in Australia since Feb 2014 … I like it.

        • Prof. Peabody

          I didn’t know that. I was just aware of the fact that it was supposed to be available in many countries outside the US a long long time ago, and yet it isn’t. Good to know Australia slipped in under the door there.

    • Jim McPherson

      I love Beats, but it just doesn’t have the same kind of “let-it-fly” radio service. Pandora is much better at that sort of thing, and the others have added it. The closest Beats gets is “the sentence”, which I never have much luck with. Otherwise you need to spend some time looking for the “right” curated playlist.

      Thus far only Pandora has done the one thing I truly want in a radio service: pick a song (say, Hotel California), and turn it into a station, picking only songs with the same style & mood. “70s” doesn’t quite cut it even if it does pick songs from the right decade.

  • Kyler Finn

    iTunes Radio is deplorable. I’m not at all eager for iTunes-Beats either

  • Prof. Peabody

    This is the universe punishing you for still listening to 40 year old music. 🙂

  • dtj

    I’ve literally heard of none of those artists, and I was sentient during the 70’s. Must obviously be classics.

  • I guess that’s what to expect when you buy a company like Beats. Rap Clap Trap.

    And get off my lawn!

    Meanwhile, I’ll give Tidal a few more months, and then decide if it’s good or not. Especially if they can start streaming in MQA soon.

    • Box of Cotton Swabs

      A high-quality format that takes up more bandwidth than uncompressed Red Book CD audio? I’m sure Tidal will be getting right on that.

      • That’s the genius of Meridian’s MQA audio tech. The file (MP3, AAC, or even FLAC) size is small, and can play on conventional gear at CD quality. With a DAC that supports MQA is used, the audio is better. It’s not based on more raw data, but on how the brain hears music. Psycho-acoustics, timing, etc. Check it out before being so dismissive.

        • Box of Cotton Swabs

          I did check it out. That’s why I said that to stream MQA’s high-quality audio, it would take slightly more bandwidth than it would to stream a standard audio CD, uncompressed, and since people can’t tell the difference between 256kbps AAC and a CD, I don’t know that they’re willing to take a 5x storage/bandwidth hit for “even better than CD” audio. But who knows? Maybe Pono, Tidal’s high-bitrate tier, and MQA will all be grand successes. I just don’t see the market clamoring for an mp3PRO-equivalent for lossless audio.

  • BaltimoreDave

    iTunes Radio is easily one of Apple’s worst products ever and I would have to believe the music lover in Steve Jobs would not allowed this product to be such a sh*t show this long.

    When it first came out, it played an ad about every hour. Now its every 15 minutes for either Geico or McDonalds. And they are playing the same ads over and over for Geico for a year. Its torture hearing “Claire” sing that stupid geico song.

    The channel i listened to hasn’t been updated in two years and plays maybe 2 hours of music before it repeats the same set of songs. The same set for 2 years.

    There is no one at the wheel driving this thing.

  • JimGramze

    You should have just entered the name of an artist they liked from the era. That works great for me. I think the iTunes Match for $25 annually is a steal as I get custom stations and my entire collection streamed commercial free. It sounds so me like you don’t know how to use the service.

  • Dayv!

    I tried iTunes radio a few times when it was new. More song repeats than Pandora, and Pandora isn’t exactly great about variety if you listen to the same station for a couple hours. With iTunes radio, I would sometimes hear the same song twice in half an hour.

  • Struckpaper

    Regardless of the excuses given herein, a trillion dollar company should never allow an important service to work so poorly. They have the resources to make this acceptable until the Beats replacement comes along. But they allow it to ferment instead. And this is not the first time. Apple’s legendary focus comes at a price. They refuse to maintain unimportant services and products even when it would cost them a pittance to do so.

    • Sigivald

      iTunes Radio isn’t an important service.

      At very least, Apple doesn’t think it is.

      (And I tend to agree, but I’m not one of the Hip Everything Will Stream In Our Robot Future kids.)

  • crateish

    I really wish Apple had bought Spotify. But in this reality, I really wish Apple would put the pedal down on integrating… replacing iTunes Radio with Beats’ engine, and interface as well. I never use the native Music app on my iPhone, except when I want to be disappointed by iTunes Radio.

  • GFYantiapplezealots

    I LOVE iTunes Radio and it’s integration with iOS and Siri. I only listen to Slacker for their Comedy stations.

  • Kris404

    Never had such issues either but was always disappointed by the limited selection of tracks on these so-called “stations”. They’re essentially glorified playlists optimized for Apple to pay less in royalties.

  • sherlock

    The station is obviously based on the song “70s” by the artist Dwele. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/70s/id283202788 (track #16). So yeah, no 70s music, because you shouldn’t be getting 70’s music. The real question is whether this was an innocent mistake or are you being disingenuous to get the clicks.

    • boom, there it.

      user error. try to retract this post, JD.

    • Sigivald

      Innocent mistake.

      I’d normally expect Jim to figure it out, but in any case random average users might reasonably expect “70s music” as a term to return music from the 70s, not “songs with 70s in the title”.

      You’re absolutely right about the cause, I’m sure.

      • sherlock

        Did you actually try typing “70s” or “70s music” (or any other derivation) into the radio search? It doesn’t even return the song they used to make the station. All the results are things like “70s Hits”, “70s Pop Hits”, “70s 80s Radio”.

        Now maybe Apple has updated the results since then. But if not, it would suggest the station was created from the actual song itself. In that case, that’s a bit dodgy.

    • Jarrod Davis

      So what was that about “lazy, bullshit reporting”? Hmm…

  • Al

    So, by all appearances, Jim made a newb error with iTunes Radio, ranted at the results caused by his own error, and now BGR has picked it up and run with it. What a shame. What a damned shame.