Dawn Chmielewski, writing over at ReCode:
Zane Lowe’s debut on Apple’s Beats 1 radio reminded me of what has been missing from my iTunes music collection: Personality.
The former BBC Radio 1 DJ played to my anticipation, spending a long radio minute talking about how he selected the first song to be played on Beats 1 — a release from the rock band Spring King from Manchester, England, that’s little known beyond its fan base but whose track “City” has gradually built momentum. The sort of thing, Lowe said, that’s needed to kick this whole thing off.
“Just like that! To 100 countries right now, broadcasting on Apple Music,” said Lowe, his voice bristling with a kinetic energy. “To the early adopters. To those hungry for music. From town to town, city to city, into the unknown we go.”
I felt swept up into a global music party, as Lowe ticked off the location of listeners tuning in from London, Antwerp, Seattle, Munich, Helsinki, Barcelona, Denmark, Miami. The music selections were as diverse as the geography, as Lowe played tracks from Gallant, a soul singer from Los Angeles, followed by Slaves, a punk band from Kent, Jack Garratt, a British pop singer, and an exclusive first broadcast of Pharrell Williams’ new single, “Freedom.”
Listening to the inaugural broadcast of Apple’s livestreamed radio, I felt part of some larger, shared music experience. Judging from the conversation on Twitter, I wasn’t alone, as the music cognoscenti remarked on the song selection and delivery, and picked up on the subtext of Lowe’s “We Salute You” tribute to AC/DC, whose catalog has not been available on streaming services until now.
Of course, broadcasting radio over the Internet isn’t new — just ask Russ Hanneman of “Silicon Valley” — but a few components make Apple’s endeavor unique.
Namely: the size of the audience, Apple’s “ecosystem,” and round-the-clock DJs.
The sheer number of people listening to Beats 1 on their iOS devices means, as Chmielewski writes, that you’re part of a wider audience, which means you can interact with DJs and fellow listeners on Twitter, for example.
And having the tunes play on your iPhone means if a song you’ve never heard comes on, you can easily click through (even if the screen is locked) and favorite it, add it to a playlist, view the album (and, of course, buy it).
But for me, the most compelling component is the DJs themselves. I’ve come across more new artists I’m interested in during the first week or so of Apple Music than I typically would in several months listening to Rdio, a music streaming service I’ve used for a couple of years now.
The difference: On Rdio, which lacks human DJs, I’d usually explore various artists but gravitated to those I knew, typically playing the same music over and over.
But I’m drawn to the Beats 1 station on Apple Music, often hear songs I wouldn’t normally listen to repeated a few times — just like in the old days of radio — and they grow on me, for instance.
Here are a few links for more reading:
- — Talking to Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine about Apple Music — a look at the thinking behind Apple Music
- — High Expectations Play in Background of Apple Music’s Debut — a WSJ story that sets the stage as Apple enters the streaming music business
- — How to Turn Off Apple Music’s Auto-Renewal — Apple Music is free for three months, then $10 monthly after that. But turning off the auto-renewal feature, so you’re not automatically charged at the end of the trial, is less than obvious.