It’s been more than two weeks since the launch of Apple Music — and with it, Beats 1, a new global radio station.
Headed up by former BBC DJ Zane Lowe, it broadcasts 24/7 around the world, with British DJ Julie Adenuga and New Yorker Ebro Darden also on hand to help out.
So far, I’ve loved it. I was never much of a radio listener before, and I’ve enjoyed the eclectic selection it has thrown up. Julie Adenuga’s show has been a highlight for me — especially the bizarre club night roleplay she frequently conducts.
But what do ordinary people think? I asked all the other listeners I know whether they think Apple’s bold new musical experiment has been a success.
George Spencer, the CEO of property startup Rentify, enjoys Beats 1. He says that the music discovery features in Apple Music have already persuaded him to cancel his Spotify subscription, despite some UI flaws, and that he was “surprised to enjoy Beats 1.”
He explains: “Zane Lowe stood out as a bastion for new music on Radio 1 because he was surrounded by idiots like Colin Murray … It was refreshing for someone to be passionate and excited about new music, and I wasn’t sure whether that would wear thin as the raison d’etre for an entire station. But the music is good, the chat is minimal, and I’m even listening to the celebrity shows which are actually not terrible. St Vincent’s mix tape is a show I genuinely look forward to hearing.”
Spencer is even forcing his team to listen. “I’ve switched my office over to Apple Music (we listen to Beats 1) and I’m gradually breaking out of the mindset of having a huge playlist of music I like and know on shuffle.”
“I listen to music pretty much the whole day while at my desk,” says Neil S W Murray, “and currently I listen to Beats 1 for around an hour most days. Normally when I’ve exhausted my favourite playlists and I can’t be bothered to think about what I want to put on next.”
Murray works as a tech journalist for Tech.eu, and founded The Nordic Web. He likes “how eclectic the tracks are, but I am beginning to notice that a lot of the same songs are played quite regularly, especially if you end up listening at similar times each day.”
He also suggests that he is already drifting away from it — suggesting it hasn’t got great longevity. “Having been a listener every day in the days following the launch, I’ve already become a listener ‘most days’ instead, and today it didn’t even cross my mind to turn it on.”
The Communications manager
Tyler Hayes works as the US communications manager for Cheetah Mobile. He’s not a fan of terrestrial radio — in fact, he says he has “pretty much given up on it.” He’s not sure he’s the target audience for Beats 1, although he does listen to it “in-between times that are too short to find anything else to listen to.”
Hayes thinks it shows up the limitations of automatic online radios stations like Pandora. “Beats 1 makes me question whether its automated algorithmic radio wasn’t a step too far when moving people from traditional broadcast radio to Internet radio. I mean, Real DJs, playing quality music, accessible easily over the Internet, sounds too simple of a solution, but Beats 1 feels like it has a chance to really work and be a big deal.”
He adds: “I like Beats 1, I like the idea of it, and I’m glad it exists for people — even if I’m not listening too often.”
The executive editor
Jay Yarow works as the executive editor here at Business Insider. He told me that before, he “never listened to radio. I never enjoyed it. The commercials, and the song selection was not for me.” In contrast, he finds “Beats 1 has good music, entertaining DJs and limited interruptions.”
The nature of his work means he can’t listen too much, however, and he would rather read on his commute. But, he adds, “I really like Zane Lowe’s taste, and I’ve heard a bunch of great new music by listening to his show, or following his playlists when they are posted.”
The startup employee
Before Beats 1, “I mostly listened to Spotify, using the song radio feature to find new music,” fintech startup Transferwise employee Ed Maughan says. “In terms of traditional radio I occasionally listen to Radio 6 Music for certain shows, or Rinse.”
He has also become a convert to Beats 1, and likes “the fact that the DJs in different cities push their local sounds. Particularly great to hear Julie Adenuga pushing UK artists to a global audience.”
Maughan has two complaints: First, “the chart show seems pretty out of place.” And second, “the massive corporate sponsors like McDonalds and Amex that they repeatedly reference!”