Apple says they are the pioneer of new music, yet no-one knows about Beats 1.
I questioned friends, family and people who work in Music and Media, and out of the hundred or so I asked, very few knew what Beats 1 was. The ones that did, only knew because recently Charlie Sloth, a DJ from The BBC’s 1xtra, was joining Zane Lowe to host there.
This made me wonder, who is listening to Beats 1? Are they really a pioneer for new music?
I remember June 30th 2015, Beats 1 started. Zane Lowe played Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, sorry Spring King, it just was. People tuned in at the right time, and they had a mic on in the studio, so you could hear people fumbling around. Professional.
I waited for bated breath to hear rock, indie, punk, ska – everything Lowe wanted to play on his terms, but no. It was 25 minutes before we even heard something rocky, and that was… AC/DC, not exactly new.
It quickly went downhill from there. Rather than handing off to another DJ in London, then to the far east, then back to the USA, it was pre-recorded and repeated shows.
Once they had more DJs, they played the same styles, focusing on dance, hip-hop, garage, and R&B (and not the good John Lee Hooker type either). Even now after 3 years with Beats 1 bringing in Charlie Sloth, it all seems the same.
The “They only play Hip-Hop” Perception.
The perception is that there is no diversity, these DJs are played every day for what seems like hours. They are rebroadcasting. Yes, Lars Ulrich, Elton John a few others do hourly shows each week, showcasing some new bands, but it’s still mainly back catalogue. It feels contrived and “plastic”. What feels like An afterthought. Even so, if I knew when Lars was on, I’d probably tune in. I can never find the schedule for the week.
That’s another problem. Even if they have a host that plays something you like, you miss it because you don’t know when it’s on.
With the perception that all they play is hip-hop, that just makes some (and I mean me) turn off.
This is why now no-one knows about Beats 1. No-one is listening and talking about it.
A Fix, maybe.
Apple is in a unique position, where they have the data of what you listen to, through Apple Music, and your own music library on iTunes. They know I like rock and metal, and a bit of classical music. They could, if they felt so inclined, inform me of shows coming up of music I like, and so encourage me to visit Beats 1 and listen. If I listen and like it, I’m going to tell others.
It’s very much like BBC’s Radio 1 in some respects. Which is fine. Maybe that’s why no-one listens in the UK. If no-one listens, no-one talks about it. But then Radio 1 is usually just background music for most, with little new, cutting edge tunes for every musical taste.
Is Beats 1 beating Radio in America? I don’t know that one. Maybe it’s all working ok over there, all I know is, that it’s not here.
Any way you cut it, after three years, I feel Beats 1 hasn’t made much progress in pioneering new music for everyone, giving them new music they want to hear.
Even Apple device users.
I showed one of my colleagues how to listen to Beats 1 on his iPhone. It was all new to him, he didn’t even know Beats 1 existed. He then asked me how he could to turn it off.