iHeartRadio steps into on-demand streaming with latest app updates

in iPhone
Adding more competition to an already tough marketplace, iHeartRadio on Thursday released iOS and Android app updates allowing listeners to stream music on-demand with a paid subscription, thanks to a partnership with Napster.

Two new plans -- Plus and All Access -- offer unlimited song skips and repeats on supporting stations, and the ability to save tracks to a playlist. Only All Access customers, however, have "unlimited access to millions of songs," an unlimited number of playlists, and the ability to cache music offline.

Plus costs $4.99 per month. All Access is $9.99, the same price as core plans for Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and other services. Both tiers have a free 30-day trial period.

The iHeartRadio iOS app is a free download, and runs on any device with iOS 9 or later.

Yet more competition in on-demand streaming is expected in the near future, as Pandora is officially set to enter the arena. The company recently promised a launch by the end of 2016, but with December already here, it could end up waiting until next year.

It has at least launched Pandora Plus, which iHeartRadio Plus appears to be targeting directly.


  • Reply 1 of 3
    "Napster". How nostalgic. :)
  • Reply 2 of 3
    stukestuke Posts: 123member
    Now, if you used iHeartRadio in the past to pickup your long lost stations, you'll be pestered with "upgrade to Plus, or All Access, for more great blah, blah, blah."  Wait and see. 
  • Reply 3 of 3
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,397member
    zroger73 said:
    "Napster". How nostalgic. :)

     Napster isn't really "Napster" - rather a rebrand of Rhapsody using the name - and Rhapsody isn't really quite the direct descendant of RealNetworks and RealPlayer, although the publicly traded Real Networks Inc owns part of it.  And (I just found out, looking up all the twists and turns below - and many more omitted for space reasons) that Rob Glaser, the founder of RealPlayer is back in the mix and the CEO of RealNetworks.  Amazing given his checkered, but colorful history.  

    Glaser's RealPlayer (as sleazy as it was and the source of several persistent bits of adware and/or spyware I got on my machine) was my first music ripping service on a Win 95 computer, at a full (wait for it) 64 k bit rate - although you could also record at 32 and maybe even 16 to save space and download/upload time.  And, having long since jettisoned the discs before my first Mac and iTunes, I still have some of those cuts in my library - which, oddly enough, still sound pretty damn good.

    (and when uploaded to Google Play Music [sorry, Apple, it just works and it's free] sound even better, because GPM uses its own 256 kbs server files to play back to me).

    Glaser's been a most resilient, if ocntroversial player in the tech media biz from the beginning and has had chafed elbows with most of the giants - Gates and Jobs among them, and surprisingly to me is still standing after lots of reversals, adverse judgements and always, comebacks.    

    Here's some of the story - with very little about Napster, as I had no dealings with it or ever used it, but covering how it's now the name of the latest incarnation of the Rhapsody service, but without (I think) any of the infamous technology:

    The first version of RealPlayer was introduced in April 1995 as "RealAudio Player" and was one of the first media players capable of streaming media over the Internet. Then, version 4.01 of RealPlayer was included as a selectable Internet tool in Windows 98's installation package.

    [etc, etc. for various versions which did various things]

     In February 2016, RealNetworks released RealPlayer 18, which incorporated the features of the previous year's release of RealTimes, an app that makes multimedia montages from users' photographs and videos, backed up and accessible via cloud storage. The Real.com Blog states that "RealPlayer with RealTimes (aka "RealPlayer" for short) will still include the legacy features, such as Downloader, Converter and Web Videos. It will also still include our RealTimes features, such as Photos and RealTimes Stories™, our automatic video collage feature." 

     [more etc., etc.]

    Past versions of RealPlayer have been criticized for containing adware and spyware. In 1999 security researcher Richard M. Smith dissected some of RealJukebox's network traffic and discovered that it was sending a unique identifier with information about the music titles to which its users were listening. RealNetworks issued a patch, and the spyware was removed in version 1.02. Their download page stated RealJukebox included privacy enhancements and gave a link to the privacy policy.

    PC World
     magazine named RealPlayer (1999 Version) as #2 in its 2006 list "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time", writing that RealPlayer "had a disturbing way of making itself a little too much at home on your PC--installing itself as the default media player, taking liberties with your Windows Registry, popping up annoying 'messages' that were really just advertisements, and so on." In 2007, it placed RealPlayer, versions 1996-2004, at #5 in its list The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products.

    US-CERT has issued multiple security advisories reporting defects which allowed remote sites to use RealPlayer to execute attack code.

    In August 2003, RealNetworks acquired Listen.com's Rhapsody music service, and renamed it RealRhapsody. It offered streaming music downloads for a monthly fee. [This was not RealPlayer] 

    In January 2004, RealNetworks announced the RealPlayer Music Store, featuring digital rights management (DRM) restricted music in the AAC file format. After some initial tries to push their own DRM scheme (named Helix DRM) onto all device manufacturers with the Creative Zen Xtra and the Sansa e200r as the only existing compliant devices, they sparked controversy by introducing a technology called Harmony that allowed their music to play on iPods as well as Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM-equipped devices using a "wrapper" that would convert Helix DRM into the two other target DRM schemes.[citation needed]

    The domain real.com attracted at least 67 million visitors annually by 2008, according to a Compete.com study.[10]

    On April 6, 2010, Rhapsody was spun off from RealNetworks.

    Rob Glaser (born January 16, 1962) is the founder of RealNetworks (1994) which produces RealAudioRealVideoRealPlayer, and Helix, among other products and services. Before founding RealNetworks, he had become a millionaire by working for Microsoft for ten years.

    Glaser, while Chief Executive of RealNetworks, clashed repeatedly with Tony Fadell, widely known as the Godfather of the iPhone and iPod, who then left the company after 6 weeks and went on to founding the products for Apple.

    Since June 2010, Glaser has been a partner at global venture firm, Accel Partners, focusing on digital media technology, social media, and mobile service investments.

    [but returned to RealNetworks in 2014 - see below]
    April, 2016:  The most surprising fact about video and music streaming pioneer RealNetworks more than 22 years after its founding is that the Seattle-based company still exists.

    Since being founded by former Microsoft executive Rob Glaser in 1994, the company has managed to be at times too far ahead of the curve and too far behind; a cornerstone of the multimedia revolution and an also-ran. Real has survived bruising legal and public relations battles against tech Goliaths only to find itself fighting for its life each time.

    After a tumultuous journey, Glaser left the company in 2010 for what looked like the classic second act in technology: the comfy life of a venture capitalist at Accel Partners. But two years later, he climbed back into the ring as Real’s interim CEO, a position that became permanent in 2014.
    Glaser’s return has echoes of Steve Jobs returning to Apple and Michael Dell returning to Dell. And in his wake, we’ve seen co-founder Jack Dorsey retake the helm at Twitter


    For anyone who came of age during the 1990s, viewing multimedia content online was practically synonymous with RealNetworks.

    Having left Microsoft to start RealNetworks in 1994, Glaser announced the launch of RealAudio in 1995 to let people stream heavily compressed audio over their pokey dial-up connections. RealVideo came in 1997. Later came RealJukebox to let people organize their music collections.

    The RealPlayer that tied all these things together, that let people watch and listen to multimedia on their PCs, became dominant. For a time.
    Microsoft jumped into the streaming game in 1997 with Windows Media Player. Soon Real began losing steam on PCs just as in the browser wars, Microsoft was using its Windows monopoly to squeeze rival Netscape.

    Glaser found himself in a heated battle with his former employer and friend, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates. Real’s legal claims were validated in 2004 when the European Union fined Microsoft $600 million and ordered it to remove Windows Player from Windows because it was unfair to Real. A year later, Microsoft paid Real $761 million to settle its antitrust claims.

    As the fight against Microsoft boiled, Glaser had continued to navigate the rapidly shifting digital media landscape. He acquired Listen.com and used it to launch Rhapsody, one of the early music subscription services. It was another pioneering move, but one for which the world wasn’t quite ready.
    Instead, Apple had launched iTunes and the iPod, and digital downloads became the new hot thing. Glaser found himself butting heads with the newly resurgent Jobs, whose Apple was seizing control of the digital music market.

    Glaser argued that Jobs should allow the iPod to work with other software besides iTunes. Jobs never budged, and once again, Real found itself losing ground in a market it helped discover.


    In January 2010, Glaser left the company. A few months later, Rhapsody was spun out as a separate joint venture. But the hemorrhaging continued.

    Back to the future

    Back in the Real CEO chair, Glaser can take some satisfaction that the future has finally caught up with the multimedia-streaming vision he had two decades ago.
    Netflix and YouTube have become dominant online video streaming services. Spotify, Deezer, and belatedly, Apple Music have made it clear that streaming and subscriptions are the way people are going to consume music.

    But this still leaves the question: What is the opportunity for RealNetworks?

    The company under Glaser now resembles a holding company in many ways. It owns 43 percent of Rhapsody, for instance, though it’s not counted in Real’s financials. Rhapsody (which uses the Napster name internationally) now has about 3 million subscribers. Revenues are growing, but so are losses as it tries to keep up with Spotify and Apple Music.

    At the core of RealNetworks today, there are three pieces: games, carrier services, and its media player.

    [And there’s much more about his plans in the article]
    In February 2010, Rhapsody's owners announced their intention to restructure the company into a fully independent corporation. Recent problems with the online music subscription service prompted the CEO to make "crucial decisions and think some things through". During this period, dropping the subscription service was considered, but he felt it wasn't the right decision at the time. Instead, the whole Rhapsody team thought of ways to revamp the struggling company and in turn dropped RealNetworks as parent of the company. This was a very risky decision, as the company needed the support, but gained the support of MTV Networks and Viacom, and other independent companies. Since independence, Rhapsody has started the revamping process with a new logo and subscription price changes.[10]

    As of January 2011, Rhapsody president Jon Irwin told Reuters the on-demand subscription music service had more than 750,000 subscribers, having added more than 100,000 since becoming an independent company.

    At that date Rhapsody had a catalog of 11,000,000 songs.

    On 3 August 2011, Rhapsody announced that from October 2011 they would no longer re-license DRMed music bought before July 2008.

    On October 3, 2011, Rhapsody announced plans to acquire Napster with the deal to be completed by November.


     At some point after this, Rhapsody made a deal with T-Mobile to include a semi-premium version of Rhapsody with some T-Mobile plans (I have this – unlimited skips, I can store a playlist of 25 cuts, etc.)  

    And then in either later 2015 or early 2016 Rhapsody rebranded the service with the Napster name and logo they’d acquired around 2011.  

    And there you have (some of) it… 

Sign In or Register to comment.