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Like iTunes Radio? Prepare to Pay or Switch

Apple has been sending email messages to its customers, informing them that as of 29 January 2016, the company will be discontinuing its free, ad-supported iTunes Radio service. If you’d like to continue listening to your stations, you’ll have to pony up for an Apple Music membership, which starts at $9.99 per month. The sole exception is the Beats 1 radio station, which will remain free for all.

Why the change? The obvious reason is that Apple is getting out of the ad business — the company announced just a few days ago that it’s shutting down the iAd App Network on 30 June 2016. Another reason would be to boost subscriptions to its Apple Music service, which has only about half the paid subscribers as Spotify. Finally, iTunes Radio was available only in the United States and Australia, while Apple Music Radio is offered around the world.

If you don’t want to pay for an Apple Music subscription (and we don’t blame you), there are plenty of alternatives. The most obvious is the original algorithmic radio service: Pandora, which offers both ad-supported and paid tiers. Another good alternative is Songza, which specializes in radio stations tailored to your daily activities, like waking up, showering, and exercising. Finally, the free tier of Spotify gives you unrestricted, ad-supported access to its entire catalog on the desktop, and the mobile version lets you play whatever you like, but only in shuffle mode.

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