More With Bob Katz and iTunes Radio Sound Check

Bob Katz:

Everyone should turn on Sound Check in your iTunes players. Right now. Leave it there at least for a month and tell us whether you like it better.

…uh, ok.

- Turns on Sound Check begrudgingly –


Check out the comment from Katz where he states that iTunes accounts for album levels and normalizes by album.

Regarding album normalization. The poster is wrong, out of date. iTunes on the computer and on the i-device has quietly begun doing album normalization for several versions now. It’s not an advertised feature but I promise you, it is there. On the computer, it’s enabled in every mode. On the idevice it’s only in album playback mode. Playlist mode on the idevice is singles-normalized. As it probably should be for people on the go.

iTunes Streaming Bitrate

It appears that over wifi iTunes Radio is streamed at 256k AAC, but over cellular networks it drops to 96k.

Some of the posts here lament that, but I’ve been hoping that’s how it’s been all along. iTunes was supposedly going to have some kind of adaptive streaming for these very situations. I don’t want to unwillingly eat up my data plan because of iTunes Radio.

Even at 96k iTunes Radio should sound better than satellite radio.

“Listener Matched Content”

Hypebot, regarding iTunes Match and iTunes Radio royalties:

Apple will not pay any royalties:

  • during the 120 day beta period
  • “Heat Seeker” promotions approved “at iTunes discretion”
  • “Complete My Albums” plays defined as “a Performance of a sound recording identified for a given Listener or a Remaining Track” and rendered for such Listener in order to promote the relevant CMA offer”.
  • Listener Matched Content – songs that are already in the users collection.

It’s the last category- Listener Matched Content – that will likely reduce payments labels and artists the most. According to the agreement, Apple does not have to pay for for up to two songs per hour of iRadio play if the tracks appear in the users cloud collection.

Since the heaviest users will likely pick iRadio streams that match their tastes, Apple may have effectively cut royalty payments by 10 – 14%.

I don’t understand the outrage here. Matched content means a sale was already made, whether it was a CD sale long ago or an MP3 sale at Amazon or elsewhere.

I know this doesn’t apply all the time. Illegal downloads get matched and people seemingly believe that iTunes match legalizes those downloads when it doesn’t.

But if I legitimately buy a CD and rip it to my iTunes collection, why should the record label get paid again?

Bob Lefsetz on the radio business

When Wi-Fi hits the car, or whatever type of cheap Internet access deploys in automobiles, Sirius XM will be challenged too. Right now, Sirius XM’s Internet play is laughable.

Been meaning to write an “iTunes Radio is disruptive” post – but I think you get the idea. Once internet access and dashboard integration1 is widespread things are gonna change real fast.

The only saving grace for terrestrial and satellite radio will be having people with good tastes on the airwaves.

Why Pandora Will be Dead by 2018…

Does anyone think Pandora or other internet radio businesses will be around in five years? They’re already struggling and with iTunes Radio on the horizon things won’t be getting any better.

Apple can foot the bill, they can afford to overpay if it drives more iPad sales. They can even afford to share low-rent advertising revenues and make this a break-even iTunes feature. Sort of like the iTunes Store.

Pandora, on the other hand, remains committed to living on advertising and a small amount of subscription revenue. This isn’t a loss leader for anything else, it’s all about monetizing internet radio directly. And that’s difficult, especially for a company that remains heavily-resistant to a paid subscription model, or anything else that lowers their massive audience numbers.

Which means, the entire Pandora model is dependent on some government handout to survive.