Why I switched back to Pandora Radio from iTunes Radio


I really wanted to like iTunes Radio for two simple reasons. The first is that it’s integrated into all my iOS devices and iTunes and that just makes it easier to enjoy and control. The second reason was that since I’m already paying for iTunes Match $25/year (that I absolutely love), iTunes Radio is delivered to me Ad free. Yes I had high hopes that I would be able to drop my Pandora Radio subscription (yes I hate ads), and just use iTunes Radio, however I just resubscribed to Pandora Radio ($3.99/month, which ironically bills through my iTunes account).

Why go back?

I went back for one reason and one reason only. THE MUSIC! As much as I tried to tweak my iTunes Radio stations I just couldn’t seem to get the same variety/favorite mix that I get on Pandora. iTunes Radio seemed to play the same songs over and and over again and yet not play the ones that I wanted to hear. Even if I added specific songs to stations it seems like I would NEVER hear them. I just can’t seem to get iTunes Radio to play the songs I like or new songs that I wouldn’t mind hearing consistently and this problem doesn’t exist for me on Pandora Radio.

I may go back to iTunes Radio from time to time because of the tight integration in iOS, but for now when I just want to hear good music I fire up Pandora Radio.

What’s been your iTunes Radio experience? Also why do many of you prefer Spotify?

Get the Pandora Radio app here:


16 Replies to “Why I switched back to Pandora Radio from iTunes Radio”

  1. I tried to comment once already and it didn’t work. Hope I’m not double commenting.

    I, too, am confused by the Spotify popularity. aside from the custom playlists without having to buy the music, I don’t get it.

    I used iTunes radio briefly on my PC at work because I could. But experienced the same problems you described. (I can’t access it anymore … darn web filter).

    I am an android user for my phone, so ITunes radio isn’t available to me on mobile. Google Play music doesn’t have a free option and they want too much per month than I’m willing to pay.

    Another reason we do Pandora is because I can stream it directly through my Sonos wireless speaker system at home. And that ROCKS!!!

    I also use the Pandora alarm feature during the week. Its nice to wake up to a different around every day.

  2. Same here, I wasn’t happy with the music selection so I went back to Pandora.

  3. The main reason I use iTunes Radio at all is because it’s built in and ad-free with iTunes Match (which has actually caused me no end of problems, but I have it). I agree with you that their playlist generation is pretty poor compared to other services — it seems like it must use the same engine as their “Genius” feature, which has always been pretty useless.

  4. I have found neither iTunes Radio or Pandora very satisfying. As a serious jazz fan I find both of them lacking in variety and depth. Google radio integrates with my personal collection of 20, 000 tunes far better than 18K of uploads. Pandora plays the most obvious tunes and artists with little depth of musical knowledge. Google wins by default. @

  5. Agreed about the duplication of songs on iTunes Radio. I think sometimes that they even have them play in the same order. I like Spotify to play complete albums and Pandora for a better variety.

  6. I’ve been listening to Pandora a lot more lately, too. What I love about Pandora is the ability to create any number of “stations” and then selectively add them to the Shuffle mix. However, I’ve been puzzled by the way Pandora selects music from those various stations to add to the mix. Some of my stations are heavily over-represented while I rarely, if ever, hear music from some other stations.

    I do like Spotify for the ability to play my choice of any album or song. But I find their stations lack variety and with nothing similar to Pandora’s Shuffle it becomes tedious to constantly be changing stations.

  7. Hi @Terry, maybe you didn’t know this tip but you can ask iTunes Radio to play (at least!) more various stations from an artist or more diverse songs. When you start listenting to a radio, just press the «i» symbol and you will have new features like «new station from the artist» or «new station from a song». You can also ask iTunes Radio to make you discover new hits, and «hide» explicit songs.
    Take a look at our screenshot and hope it helps (yes, I know, the screenshot is also in French 😉 )


  8. Sorry to wake up an old thread. HAs anyone used the discovery feature on iTunes Radio?

  9. Yes, totally agree. Even after a year, their algorithm is terrible. If you “Like” an artist, it begins to play almost nothing but that artist. They should have bought Pandora.

  10. Thanks for the article Terry. I don’t see Pandora coming to my country anytime soon. However, there are plenty of workarounds available to access it here in my country. Personally, I use UnoTelly for more than a year and I can access Pandora radio like I am in USA.

  11. I’m not sure how iTunes Radio works, but Pandora works by playing music that SOUNDS similar. When you give a Thumbs Up to a song on Pandora you’re telling Pandora not only to play that song more often, but to offer you music that has the same musical elements as that song.

    As far as I know, Pandora is the only musical database that does this.

  12. You took the words right out of my mouth! I’ve been trying iTunes Radio for a few months and will probably go back to Pandora. I too can’t figure out why iTunes chooses the songs it does. For example, I clearly set up a Christmas station and even used an iTunes preset Christmas station. After a few minutes, it plays “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” by Toby Keith! I can’t skip it because by this time, I’ve used up my 6 skips already on other non-Christmas songs. This happens on all the stations I created – what seems like obvious genres to me is hard for iTunes to figure out.

  13. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, but….

    While this article by Mr. White was written almost nine months ago, but, it is still accurate. Like Mr. White, I really really want to have iTunes radio be the app, but, it just can’t touch Pandora (or, Slacker for that matter).

    I have similar stories to ghvz1 for Christmas music (tried Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas, and the second song was “Renegade” by Styx. Really?). And, being a Yngwie Malmsteen fan for the technical guitar playing, with even a bit of classical music influence I love a YM station on Pandora. iTunes played Metal Church, Whitesnake and Nickelback.

    I wish that Apple would read these comments, and understand how they are lacking. Like Mr. White, I love iTunes Match but unfortunately iTunes Radio isn’t the wonderful thing they make it out to be.

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