June 30, 2015: Apple launches its Beats 1 24/7 music radio station. Part of Apple Music, Beats 1 features top DJs ranging from former BBC presenter Zane Lowe to big name music artists like Lil Wayne.
Apple claims that Beats 1 is “the biggest radio station in the world” and beats (no pun intended) all other music stations when it comes to concurrent listeners. However, without hard figures to back that up, some have called Apple out on this claim.
Beats 1 marches (well, kind of) on
As its name suggests, the origin of Beats 1 can be traced back to Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats in 2014. This gave Apple the music-themed brand and tech with which it started building the basis for Apple Music. However, Zane Lowe — one of the first Beats 1 DJs — has said that the timeframe for creating Beats 1 was incredibly tight. The team, he has said in interviews, had just three months to “build Beats 1 from scratch.”
Now five years old, it’s tough to get a gauge on where Beats 1 stands. Lowe said early on that he was “not sure” how essential Beats 1 was to the overall Apple Music experience — although he hoped “there’s a place for it.” Unlike Apple Music, Beats 1 requires no subscription to listen to. In theory, this opens it up to a massive audience, even if Apple has never revealed exactly what that is.
Has Beats 1 changed the game?
In the years since its launch, Beats 1 has continued to garner big name interviews and celebrity hosts, particularly in the hip hop world. But Apple also does relatively little to promote it, and the focus on it a key differentiator for Apple Music seems to have gone the way of Apple Music’s early focus on exclusives. There’s also no sign of a Beats 2, 3, or 4 — despite the fact that Apple has the necessary permissions to do so.
Personally, I listen to Beats 1 periodically and am impressed by the quality. However, I’d like to see wider ranges of music represented or even some talk radio focused on sport or other non-music topics. It would be good to see Apple promote it more widely, whether this was updates during keynotes or even the ability to set notifications to remind you when shows are about to start.
Are you a regular Beats 1 listener? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.