Apple Music

Elton John, Dr. Dre, and Pharrell get their own shows on Beats 1

Apple Music. Image: Apple

26 June 2015

Apple Music’s Beats 1 just might turn out to be the global radio station you never knew you wanted, but can’t live without.

The Internet radio station will be curated and hosted by three well-known DJs and broadcast around the world 24 hours a day. Apple has also enlisted famous artists to host shows on Beats 1. Elton John, Dr. Dre, Drake, Pharrell Williams, St. Vincent, and Jaden Smith are among the musicians signed to curate blocks on the station at launch. Beats 1 will also feature celebrity interviews, beginning with Eminem on launch week.

The new details were revealed in a New York Times profile of radio personality Zane Lowe, the Los Angeles-based voice of Beats 1, who Apple poached from Britain’s BBC Radio 1. Lowe is known for predicting the meteoric rise of artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran, but bringing live radio to an app has never been done before in this way.

“The whole thing could be a total, abject disaster,” Lowe told the Times.

The newspaper notes that 243 million people still listen to terrestrial radio in the US each week. SiriusXM, the satellite radio service most comparable to Beats 1, has 28 million subscribers. Spotify has 60 million monthly active users. People obviously love the mindlessness of letting a DJ (or an algorithm) pick which tracks to play. Apple has an advantage over its radio rivals: Beats 1 comes packaged with Apple Music, which offers on-demand streaming. Terrestrial radio, SiriusXM, and Spotify don’t have that. Apple Music will also come preinstalled on iPhones as part of iOS 8.4., making it immediately and easily accessible.

With the going rate for streaming services pegged at $9.99 a month, Apple has to differentiate Apple Music with features instead of price. Beats 1 is a gamble, one that didn’t sound so appealing at first, but as new details emerge, the station has potential to be a huge selling point – or a complete flop. How will Apple measure its success? Lowe said if Beats 1 helps a new artist break out and become a global sensation, even if the service doesn’t last, it will have been worth it.


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