October 24, 2016 / Web/
For a long time, mystery has surrounded the Apple iTunes Internet Radio Directory. How do these stations get in here? With the gradual phasing out of the feature, is it still possible to be listed?
It’s actually quite easy, once you know how. In fact, I had three stations listed only a few weeks ago – and it took less than 24 hours for the submission to be approved and show up in players clients! Here’s proof that I did it:
(Yes, there’s some questionable content in the directory. There’s 1,540 streams in the “Religious” category alone!)
Acceptance into this directory gets you into the official Apple iTunes desktop client, as well as 3rd Generation Apple TV’s. This is different from Apple Music (the new subscription music streaming service).
Step 0: Make Sure You’re Compatible
To be accepted, you must have a MP3, AAC or AAC+ internet stream (distributed via streaming servers such as Icecast or Shoutcast). HLS, WMA and other formats / delivery methods aren’t accepted. Make sure you can play your stream in the iTunes desktop client before commencing the submission.
Apple’s guidelines suggest you need a bitrate of 128Kbps or greater in order to be accepted. However, I’ve had music 64Kbps streams accepted. Your mileage may vary.
Make sure you have enough bandwidth, and a reliable provider. Apple appear to do a small load test before accepting you, so if your server can only cope with five listeners then there isn’t much chance of being accepted. If your stream goes down too much, you risk ejection from the directory.
Step 1: Download the Listing Request Spreadsheet
To be listed in the directory, you first need to download and complete a spreadsheet with your station information. Multiple stations can be listed in the one spreadsheet (if you have multiple stations).
Step 2: Fill out the Listing Request Spreadsheet
There’s sixteen fields you need to fill out. Some fields are a bit weird. I can only assume this spreadsheet gets sucked directly into a back-office database, hence some oddities.
Here’s an overview of each field and how you should fill it out:
The full name of the station, as it’s usually communicated. Don’t try and trick Apple into sorting your station at the beginning of the list. Dots and brackets at the start will likely get you rejected.
This field gives you a choice of twenty five genres. Pick the closest one.
The name of the City your station originates from (you physically, not your server).
Select your two-digit ISO country code from the drop down.
A brief description, using regular capitalisation and grammar. Don’t be obnoxious or attention grabbing.
Will you broadcast explicit content at any time on this stream? Yes/No
The only valid value here is “23”. I don’t know what it means. Just pick “23”.
- Home Page
The full URL of your website, including ‘http://‘
It seems presumptuous to assume you’ve already been accepted, but “Yes” is the only option we have here. Best not to argue with the spreadsheet.
- Provider Contact Info
Include your full name, phone number, email address and Apple ID address. This is in case Apple needs to contact you about the submission (but they probably won’t).
Set this to “Active”.
The only option is “45”. That sounds like a strong number, right?
The full URL to your internet stream, including ‘http://‘. Although some streaming providers give you an IP address and port number, I highly recommend setting up your own DNS A-record. This way you can always point the stream to a different streaming server when you change providers.
According to Apple, there are only twenty eight languages that could possibly be listed in iTunes. Pick the closest.
If you are a non-commercial operator, select “No”. Otherwise, select “Yes”.
- Bandwidth Kbps
Specify your bitrate, excluding the unit of measurement (e.g. say “64” if it’s a 64Kbps stream).
If you have multiple stations you wish to submit, include them each on a new row in the spreadsheet.
Step 3: Create your Artwork
Apple require artwork, although I haven’t seen it used anywhere. This image should be your station’s logo.
Here’s the specs:
- 3000 x 3000px
- 72 DPI
- JPG or PNG
Step 4: Submit
Apple used to have an email address you could send your submission to, but it’s since been replaced with a ZenDesk website. Here’s the link: https://support.itunesinternetradio.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
Here’s the fields you need to fill out:
- Choose a Topic
“Submit My Station”
- Your email address
The best email address for Apple to contact you on. Your acceptance or rejection will be sent here.
“Station Submission: [Station Names(s)]”
A friendly letter requesting your acceptance into the directory. Be nice. Use proper grammar.
“Normal” is probably a reasonable selection here, unless a dictator is holding you at gunpoint until you get his propaganda station into iTunes – in this case, select “Urgent”.
- Apple ID
An Apple ID somehow affiliated to your radio station (perhaps on the same domain name).
Attach your completed spreadsheet and the station artwork.
That’s it! Hit submit!
Honestly, this web page and process seems slightly dodgy. When I did my last submission, I had Certificate Revocation issues in some browsers – thankfully, Google Chrome worked at the time. I can’t find any links to this website outside some online forums. It’s not even on an official Apple subdomain! The SSL certificate is issued by GoDaddy without EV (Extended Validation). The domain name even uses a generic WHOIS domain privacy service!!
Anyhow, I can confirm submission to this URL can get you into the directory. My best guess is that this directory is run by a third-party contractor (or some frustrated internal Apple staff who just decided to register for ZenDesk).
Step 5: Wait
It took me less than 24 hours to have three stations accepted. This will probably vary seasonally.
Post your experiences in the comments below, so others can get a sense of what it takes.
Here’s what Hope 103.2 looks like on a 3rd-Generation Apple TV:
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