How to Use iTunes Radio in iTunes

Using itunes radio in itunes, step 1
The main iTunes Radio screen.

Listening to the songs in your music library can get a little repetitive. Sometimes, what you really need is some variety in your music. One great way to shake up your music habits and to discover new artists similar to the ones you already like is to use the iTunes Radio feature built into iTunes and the iOS Music app.

With iTunes Radio, you can create Pandora-style radio stations within iTunes that you can customize to your listening preferences. With it, you can discover new music related to the music you already love and take those stations with you anywhere you have iTunes. And, best of all, it's very easy to use. Here's how to create and fine-tune stations in iTunes Radio.

NOTE: One of the best features of iTunes Radio is Beats 1, a streaming radio station programmed by DJs. This article only covers making your own stations, so if you want to learn more about Beats 1, check out Everything You Need to Know About Beats 1.

Create a New iTunes Radio Station

Using itunes radio in itunes, step 2
Creating a new station based on a song is easy.

To begin, make sure you're running the latest version of iTunes since that will always give you the latest features. You can use iTunes Radio in iTunes 11.1 and higher, but the newer the better.

Strangely enough, you don't create your own iTunes Radio from the Radio tab in the Music section of iTunes (click on that to find Apple's selection of pre-made stations, though, which can be a great place to start).

Instead, what you need to do is find the music you want to use as the basis of your new radio station. This is similar to how Pandora works: start with a base song, album, or artist and the intelligence built into iTunes Radio will serve up other music related to your initial choice.

  1. So, go to your music library and find a song, album, or artist to start your new station.
  2. Click the ... icon next to the item. 
  3. Click Create Station.
  4. iTunes Radio creates the station and begins playing music from it right away. Like with Pandora, you can't see what songs are coming next. You just have to wait for iTunes Radio to surprise you, though you can skip songs using the skip button in the top left corner, next to the play button.

To find the station to listen to in the future, go to the Radio tab in iTunes and it will be listed in the Recently Played section.

The Weird Limitations of iTunes Radio

When iTunes Radio was first introduced, it was a pretty full-featured service that offered a lot of features for managing your stations, buying music, and more. Over time, though, Apple has removed most features from iTunes Radio and the service is now pretty limited.

For example, you can't delete iTunes Radio stations. Once you create a station, it lives in your iTunes or Music app forever. This doesn't really cause any problems since it's just on the Radio screen in iTunes, but that's a little weird.

Other things that iTunes Radio used to offer but no longer does include:

  • Adding new songs or artists to stations to make them more customized.
  • Adding songs to an iTunes Wish List.
  • Managing explicit lyrics preferences on a per-station basis.

It's hard to say why Apple made these changes, but they've made iTunes Radio less flexible.

How to Rate iTunes Radio Songs and Improve Your Stations

Using itunes radio in itunes, step 3
Improve your stations by rating songs.

Once you're listening to your new iTunes Radio station, you can provide feedback to Apple to improve your station. Each song that's played is related to the last, as well as the song or artist used to create the station, so it should be something you'll like. Of course, that's not always the case, though, so the more you rate songs, the more the station will match your tastes.

While you're listening to your radio station, you can provide two key pieces of feedback to improve your station. When a song is playing, click the star button in the top left corner of iTunes to reveal a menu. That menu provides the following options:

  • Play More Like This: Click this to tell iTunes Radio that you like this song and want to hear it and others like it more.
  • Never Play This Song: Hate the song iTunes Radio played? Choose this option and the song will be removed from this (and only this) station for good.

Adding iTunes Radio Songs to Your Music Library

Using itunes radio in itunes, step 4
Add music to your library with a few clicks.

Love the song that's playing on your iTunes Radio station right now? It's easy to add it to your library. If you're an Apple Music subscriber, that means getting access to the song right away. If you're not, you can buy the song from the iTunes Store. Here's how:

  1. When you hear a song you like, hover your mouse next to the name of the song in the window at the top of iTunes. 
  2. The ... icon appears. Click it.
  3. In the pop-up menu, click Add to Library if you're an Apple Music user. The song will be added to your library.
  4. To buy the song, click Show in iTunes Store and then follow the normal steps for buying music.