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Apple officially closed up shop on iTunes Radio this morning, as listeners that attempted to fire up the service were met with a message encouraging them to migrate over to Apple Music. While the Beats 1 station, as well as a few other live news feeds are still available, all other iTunes Radio stations are now only accessible via Apple Music.
iTunes Radio, introduced alongside iTunes 11.1 and iOS 7 in September of 2013, was a free streaming service for iTunes users. Similar to Pandora, iTunes Radio featured a number of pre-programmed stations, as well as custom stations based on an artist or song, as well as input from the user.
Although the service was free, it was ad-supported, and much like the free version of Pandora, allowed users to only skip a limited number of songs. The service has been quietly humming along since Apple Music as introduced last June, until Apple announced several weeks ago that iTunes Radio would be merged into the newer Apple Music service.
Previous iTunes Radio stations will now be merged into the Radio portion of Apple Music. A much more feature-rich service, Apple Music incorporates some of the best features of Spotify, Pandora, and live radio. Unfortunately, however, Apple Music doesn’t offer a free, ad-supported version.
In fact, the decision to merge iTunes Radio into Apple Music comes right off the heels of Apple announcing that they would be getting out of the mobile advertising business, and would be dissolving their iAd team. While Apple Music does offer Beats 1, its 24-hour live radio station for free, the rest of the service will cost users $9.99/month, or $14.99/month for a family of up to six users.
If you haven’t checked out the Apple Music service yet, a free three-month trial is available to all new users. The service has been growing in popularity since it was introduced, and now has roughly 10 million paid subscribers, slowly gaining on streaming giant Spotify, with roughly double the amount of customers.