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Is iHeartRadio Stealing Features From Spotify Now?

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iHeartRadio has just started offering curated playlists to members, even if they don't have a subscription. But isn't this what Spotify does essentially?

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I have been rediscovering music that used to make me truly happy.  I mean music is an incredibly powerful thing. It can make you happy or it can make you sad.  It can bring you to your knees with its power, as you remember a moment from your past.  Sometimes you want to relive those moments, and sometimes you don’t.  Whatever the case, you have to admit that music can have and does have a profound impact on our lives.  Which is why I love the ability to stream music, rather than having to buy an entire album.  iHeartRadio is making it easier for you to find music that you love.

They have recently added on-demand streaming, powered by Napster, to their broadcast radio-centric service in 2016.  After that, they added curated activity, era-based and genre-based playlists for paid subscribers.  Now, iHeartRadio is bringing this Playlist Radio feature to all of its users, including free members.

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What does this mean, exactly?  iHeartRadio promises thousands of hand-curated playlists that have been created around specific moods, activities, genres, and eras.  But only paid users will be able to create their own playlists.    This kind of sounds a lot like Spotify.  I’m not saying that to say that this is bad, but I do wonder if they’re starting to shift their business model in order to compete.  That said, free members will be able to listen to the curated playlists, including ones made for road trips, 80s music, and workouts.

Apple also offers this kind of deal, but all are slightly different.  Spotify users can create their own playlists, but they’re limited to 6 skips per hour and will hear ads.  They might also hear similar tracks instead of the ones that they put in their playlists.  Apple, of course, doesn’t have a free tier, but it does have curated and subscriber-made playlists available.

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The move expands the audience for more than 1,000 human-curated playlists that have already been programmed under the music-streaming company. Previously, these curated playlists were only available to paid subscribers through subscription tiers iHeartRadio Plus for $4.99 a month and iHeartRadio All Access for $9.99 a month for Google Play or $12.99 a month through Apple App Store. Paid subscribers have access to better on-demand options like unlimited song-skipping, offline listening, or specific song selection from a library of millions of tracks.

Again, this sounds a lot like Spotify.  Is this a move to become more like Spotify?  We often see one service or platform re-designing themselves or bringing in new features so that they are similar to another, more popular service.  While I have no problem with this kind of copy-cat attitude, I do wonder if this is the best way to get a better service or platform? There’s something to be said about being unique and coming up with your own way of thinking or doing business. Some suggest that this is a way to differentiate their product from their rivals, but I disagree, as it feels like they’re trying to be more of the same.

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