Only six month after it was introduced, figures from Staista suggest that iTunes Radio is the third most popular music streaming service in the United States, ahead of Spotify. Pandora leads with a comfortable 31%, then comes iHeartRadio (which I’d never heard of before) with 9%, then iTunes Radio with 8%. Spotify, in spite of heavy marketing in the US, has only 6% of the market.
It’s important to note that many users listen to music from more than one service; one study suggests that as many as 92% of iTunes Radio listeners also use Pandora. (Note that the above only shows how many people listened to each service, not how much. The real numbers are the number of songs streamed, or the number of hours listened.)
What’s interesting is that Pandora is limited to North America, and there’s no suggestion that they will expand, whereas iTunes Radio will be adding a number of countries in the near future; for now, it’s available in the US and Australia. As for Spotify, it’s available in many countries, with the US being one of its latest territories, so it’s hard to tell which service has momentum.
iTunes Radio, of course, can lose money without Apple batting an eyelash. The service’s goal is more to steer listeners to the iTunes Store to buy music than to provide a true streaming service. This could change, of course, in the future, if Apple sees that streaming is overtaking sales; it wouldn’t be complicated (other than accords with record labels) for Apple to turn the entire iTunes Store’s music offering into a streaming library.
But for now, in spite of iTunes Radio’s limited choices in content, it seems to be moving up quickly. Apple has managed to get lots of iTunes and iOS users to try it out, and the true litmus test of success will be in the future, when it’s not a novelty any more.