Eminem's new album is the first to stream on iTunes Radio First Play

Besides being able to dole out prescribed songs to users over its internet radio functionality, iTunes Radio can also serve up whole albums to users before their public release. This means they won't have to go searching all corners of the net to find a sketchy download - or you know, a YouTube upload - of an upcoming leaked album. 

iTunes Radio First Play has acquired its first album. Using its in with record companies, Apple scored Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP2 for iTunes Radio users to jam to four days before its release to the public. Other streaming services, like Pandora, Spotify, and RDIO, don't yet have access to the track - giving Apple the exclusive. iTunes Radio is currently only available to US users.

First Play is obviously a tactic for Apple to bring users over to its new service, which saw 1 billion song plays and 20 million users in mid-October. With a high-profile release like The Marshall Mathers LP2 Apple can get users to click on the iTunes Radio tab for the first time within the iOS Music app. It can also serve up advertising and album purchases through iTunes.

Asked about potentially converting streaming album premieres into impressive pre-orders and sales with iTunes Radio, Apple’s senior vice-president of internet software and services, Eddy Cue, told Entertainment Weekly: "We certainly knew we would leverage it for iTunes Radio but the primary key to iTunes Radio was to create it custom for you. 

"When you’re talking premiering song, what we’re doing iTunes Festival-wise, we knew iTunes Radio was a perfect place for that so it’s perfect alignment."

The Marshall Mathers LP2 is Eminem's eighth studio album by Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records, and Interscope Records. A follow-up to Eminem's 2000 The Marshall Mathers LP, the new album features appearances by Skylar GreyRihanna, Fun and Kendrick Lamar.

Obviously, iTunes Radio will only let users stream the album and not download it. It's not clear how long an album stays in First Play after its release.