Don’t call it a comeback: Napster and iHeartRadio bring a new twist to live radio

Combining on-demand features with on-the-air music

The likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal will have to make room in the pool for another music streaming contender, as iHeartRadio's on-demand service goes live to bring a new take on radio.

Announced back in September, iHeartRadio's premium on-demand music service comes in not one, but two forms: iHeartRadio Plus and the Napster-powered iHeartRadio All Access. 

The two tiers are available for beta access starting today for iOS and Android, with both planning a full-fledged public release in January 2017 for both mobile and desktop.

According to iHeartRadio, Plus and All-Access will be the first time a music service uses on-demand features, such as saving or replaying favorite tracks, to make live radio "truly interactive."

Two services in one place

iHeartRadio Plus is an augmented version of the company's existing internet radio experience, allowing customers to replay, save, and skip an unlimited number of songs from real-world radio stations for $4.99 (about £4, AU$7) a month.

For $9.99 (about £8, AU$13) a month, iHeartRadio All Access includes all the features of iHeartRadio Plus with additional enhancements thanks to Napster's technical experience.

Among these features are offline listening and the ability to add music to your on-demand collection while it's still airing live on the radio - the latter of which iHeartRadio claims is a first for any music streaming service.

For those loyal to Napster's own music streaming service, the company announced that it's enhancing its own app, to include an updated home screen, customizable playlists, and a new section highlighting new and notable albums.

While competing services - most notably Pandora - can play nonstop music like a radio station, those services are local to the listener's device - making them a different beast compared to a real-life radio broadcast. 

With that difference, iHeartRadio's collaboration with Napster may actually weather the stiff competition of music streaming by offering unique - or at least, something a little more enticing than early access to a Yeezy album.

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Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He also tinkers in Photoshop when the staff need a picture of an Xbox One battling a PS4 in a cage match or something. He really likes Persona 4.