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FAQ: What you need to know about the death of ad-supported iTunes Radio

When did Apple get rid of ad-supported iTunes Radio stations?

On Friday morning, two weeks after announcing that the stations would be sunset.

But WHY?!

For one, Apple is no longer producing ads in-house with its iAd program — though it's never been clear if the iTunes Radio station ads were sold through iAd, it's a likely bet that Apple wanted to clear the deck of its advertising-related services.

iTunes Radio is also the remnant of Apple's pre-Beats music subscription service; by ditching the ad-supported stations, the company can now rebrand all its stations under the "Apple Music" banner.

So the iTunes Radio stations are sticking around, with a different name?

Yep, and no ads. What you knew as "iTunes Radio" have become "Apple Music radio stations," all living under the Radio tab of the Music app. If you're an Apple Music subscriber, you can still create new radio stations based off artists and albums, and listen to any of the pre-built stations, ad-free.

What about iTunes Match users?

As part of Apple's iTunes Match program, you can store DRM-free copies of your music in iCloud. iTunes Match also used to provide its users with ad-free versions of the iTunes Radio stations — but this perk has gone the way of the dodo into extinction.

While current Match subscribers were able to listen to ad-supported radio until Apple took it offline on Friday, the company hasn't advertised ad-free radio as part of its iTunes Match subscription page (opens in new tab) in some time now; I wouldn't be surprised if new subscribers never knew it was even a (hidden) benefit.

But I hate subscriptions! What if I still want to listen to ad-supported radio?

Just because Apple's decided to ditch its ad-supported radio doesn't mean there aren't other options out there for you. You can still stream ad-supported music via Pandora (opens in new tab), and Spotify offers a whole ad-supported tier of its music subscription service. And if you truly want to listen to radio, you can always stream from any of the myriad Internet radio stations.

Other questions?

Anything we missed that you want to know about the switch? Drop it in the comments and we'll try and help you get sorted.

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

19 Comments
  • google play works for me.
  • Same, Google Play Music is my preferred go to. Sent from the iMore App
  • "the company hasn't advertised ad-free radio as part of its iTunes Match subscription page in some time now"
    Does last week count as "for some time now"? Apple did not notify iTunes Match subscribers that one of its two features was going to be taken away with no refunds offered. iTunes Match Radio was not ad supported since there were no ads and you paid an annual subscription fee to get it. The radio stations are still there. I simply cannot play them without paying yet another subscription fee on top of the one I already paid for. I personally feel defrauded by Apple and would welcome a class action lawsuit to correct the situation.
  • My iTunes Match was automatically renewed on January 4th of this year and part of the description in the email they sent me was it came with iTunes Radio Sent from the iMore App
  • sorry but if I am going to pay to listen to radio I would be keeping xm radio
  • I am an iTunes match customer and I am in the middle of my contract. When I resigned the contract, the ad free iTunes radio was advertised as part of what I was purchasing. Even though it was an afterthought with iTunes match, it was nice having. I too, was never notified by Apple of the change. I assumed or assume they might refund a partial amount of what I paid for iTunes match, in good faith. I understand they are going with Apple radio and discontined iTunes radio, but tell subscribers first and possibly offer them something in return. Apple Music is not worth it to me. All I need is the iTunes match for backing up my own music. I will now look at alternatives for my radio style music.
  • It's only $10 to get everything back and with no ads and you can build playlists. Quit being cheap and stop complaining.
  • Try $120.00 vs $25.00
  • Get a better job
  • Not wanting to throw money out the window has nothing to do with salary.
  • No, but it has something to do with cheapness.
  • I have iTunes Match for the sole purpose of using iTunes Radio during my commute which isn't heavy usage at all so it worked for me. If I start getting ads with my subscription I'm cancelling it and going to Pandora for $5/month. While the Apple Music plan for $10 is a great value it cost too much for the very, very little use I'd get from it. So for a casual user price is a factor (at least for me personally). Edit: I tried using Apple Radio and I'm being asked to pay. Such BS considering I just paid my annual fee two months ago.
  • This is very strange , as an old timer (classic rock fan), I like the music I purchased when I want it and in the order I choose, so I chose to subscribe to iTunes match. As a means of casual listening I appreciated iTunes Radio as a way to hear new artists as well as legacy (older) artists whose music I might like to purchase or repurchase in digital form. iTunes match provided me with just the right combo and I assumed it was intentional, knowing that some of the people heading Apple Music are from my classic rock generation. I assumed they liked to listen to music the same way I do.
    Now I am really disappointed, I can use Pandora but that forces me to take few more steps to purchase songs and albums through iTunes. This move seems an unnecessarily heavy handed way to move all Apple customers to their streaming service. As a long time loyal Apple user I feel dissed. (old timers term meaning disrespected). I can only supposed that there was no technical way of continuing to provide this service.
    I am now hoping that Apple through iTunes will continue to add more DJ curated radio stations in addition to Beats 1and that they will introduce a genre more to my liking that may serve to resolve some of this issue. We will have to wait and see.
  • I used to think that "owning" the music was somehow better. Then I subscribed to Spotify now Apple Music. The ability to download unlimited music, make playlists etc taught me a new way to look at ownership. Add The other benefits like Siri integration, now a useable Android app, family plan the cost comparison is a no brainer for me.
  • I did iTunes Match but now that Apple music is around I do the family plan which by far is the best thing for us. My 5 year boy loves it because he can ask Siri to play songs for him (no matter how horrible the music is he picks. What does the fox say.) Enough said about that. Anyways If you need free radom music there are other options but that is like sticking to the old way of things. I beat if we were in there shoes looking at the data we all would have done the same.
  • You forgot the "because Apple wants to squeeze more money out of you" in the "But WHY!?" section....
  • Thanks for the link to Internet-radio.com. But what I'd really like is to access from my iPhone the list of Internet radio stations you get on Apple TV. Know of any way to do that?
  • anyway, previous iTunes Radio service was too good to be true and i kinda knew it was going away.
  • I liked the old iTunes Radio service and was sad to see it go. I almost listen to enough music to make a paid service worthwhile, but didn't mind the ads. Since they shut down, I've started using Spotify and like It just fine. I can understand their desire to push more people toward subscriptions. It is likely less administrative overhead dropping ad supported, but I think many will perceive this move as Apple taking something free away from them, just to monetize it.