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Apple explains Apple Music’s most head-scratching feature

Published Jun 9th, 2015 5:18PM EDT
Apple Music Beats 1 Radio
Image: Apple

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During Apple’s WWDC keynote this week, Apple saved its “one more thing” moment to introduce Apple Music, the company’s unique twist on streaming music. While Apple Music will serve up music on demand much like Spotify, it also brings with it a number of other features that rivals lack, the most prominent such example being a worldwide radio station Apple is calling Beats 1.

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Believe it or not, Apple, the company which helped usher in the digitization of music, is now taking things back a few decades with its very own radio station. As Apple relayed yesterday, Beats 1 will be based out of three cities — London, New York City, and Los Angeles — and will be led by Julie Adenuga, Ebro Darden, and DJ Zane Lowe.

Succinctly capturing what Beats 1 will offer listeners, the BBC writes:

Beats 1 is a global radio station and it has said it will launch with three very specialist music programmes – a hip hop DJ from New York, a grime DJ from London and Zane – that’s a very specialist offering at the moment.

Now that all sounds well and good, but what was the impetus behind Apple rolling out Beats 1 in the first place?

Billboard was wondering the same thing and asked that question directly to Jimmy Iovine who responded as follows:

What’s gone on in the last 15 years in radio is that it’s really become manufactured. It’s either genre-based or beat-driven or research-driven. So I said, let’s build something that’s got none of that that just plays music because it’s great. So we got Zane, someone who’s very progressive about young, upcoming artists who want to push it by establishing great records. But don’t play it just because it’s a [particular] artist. Like The War on Drugs — they should be gigantic. I think they’re fantastic. This is the kind of place where a band like that can really thrive.

The notion of a worldwide radio station accessible to hundreds of millions of users across the globe is certainly compelling, and it’s going to be interesting to see how readily users take to Apple’s first foray into radio broadcasting.

The entire Billboard piece is well worth reading in its entirety as it includes a far ranging interview with both Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue. One additional tidbit worth mentioning is that Apple reportedly had to negotiate quite a bit in order to secure the $14.99 pricepoint for family subscriptions.

“I think the cost of an album for a month of subscription is fair,” Cue explained. “Could you argue, $7.99 or $8.99? Who cares. I think where subscription is missing the boat is on the family — you have a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend kids … the concept of signing up for these individual subscription plans multiple times is just not going to happen so we spent a lot of time with the labels to convince them that the real opportunity here is to get the whole family. With that, all boats rise.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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