Video may have killed the radio star, but radio is looking for its revenge. iHeartMedia, the largest terrestrial radio company in the United States, announced two new streaming services that will go head-to-head with the biggest names in digital music.
The new services, which entered beta on Thursday, offer listeners two tiers of listening options. The first is iHeartRadio Plus, a $5 per month subscription service that acts as a sort of souped-up version of the existing radio streaming app.
With Plus, users will have the option of replaying songs heard on their favorite stations before jumping back into the live station. Users will also have the ability save individual songs and full artist radio stations to listen offline. Plus members will be granted unlimited skips to blow past songs they don’t want to hear on artist stations.
In addition to the Plus tier, there’s the $10 per month iHeartRadio All Access. Powered by Napster, All Access goes directly at the biggest competitors in the streaming music space: Spotify and Apple.
iHeartRadio All Access provides a full music library that can be accessed at any time. It’s linked seamlessly to the existing radio app so when a listener hears a track they enjoy on the radio, a single tap immediately adds that song to their music collection.
All Access also offers offline listening and complete control over playlist building, and no limitations on music playback—all fairly standard features for a streaming service in 2016.
For iHeartRadio All Access, the killer feature is really the interconnectivity between the radio and the streaming library. In a 2015 study by Edison Research and Triton Digital, 69 percent of people reported still using the radio as their primary method of music discovery. Tying that directly to the streaming service, so users can quickly tag a song they like as they hear it on a radio broadcast, may be a standout option for prospective listeners.
Apple has tried to create a similar service, building out its own radio station with Beats 1 Radio. The computing giant grabbed top name talent to host shows on the platform and makes it easy to find songs played on the station in the linked Apple Music app, but it’s a singular station.
iHeartRadio allows listeners to browse through any of the 850 radio stations in 150 markets that are encompassed under the iHeart umbrella.
The streaming library of Napster will make iHeartRadio competitive with Apple and Spotify for the most part, though we don’t know exactly what songs will be available—iHeartRadio simply announced it was “ millions.” Where iHeartRadio may struggle is with exclusive songs, albums, and artists. Apple, Spotify, and Tidal are in constant competition for new music in hopes of hosting it on their own platform first or exclusively.
However, the connection to the radio may help work around this problem slightly. Music that is only available to stream on specific platforms would still be available to listen to via iHeartRadio’s actual radio stations, and users would be able to reply those songs when heard on the radio.