Apple CEO Tim Cook was wrong when he called Apple Watch the company’s most personal product, at least in my opinion. The title really belongs to Beats 1, a new music streaming service that launched alongside Apple Music on Tuesday.
When Apple (AAPL) announced plans to launch its own radio station, the world knew very little about it. We knew key players from the music industry, including Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, and Trent Reznor, joined Apple when it acquired popular headset Beats. We also knew Apple managed to persuade big name DJ’s such as long-time BBC Radio 1 host Zane Lowe, along with Julie Adenuga and Ebro Darden to join the site, but aside from the much-publicized hires little else was known.
As the launch drew near, Apple revealed that Beats 1 would broadcast live shows, which included DJ’s (and guests) playing music from current and upcoming artists, alongside classics like ACDC. However, questions remained: Would it be just like any other radio station, where the same playlist was looped over and over again? Would the DJ’s be personable, or follow a script? More importantly, was Beats 1 unique enough to last?
After all, streaming services have long broadcast radio-like experiences. Using Spotify or Rdio, listeners can tap a few buttons, select their favorite artists and create a custom radio station in minutes. These algorithmically curated playlists were the future of music, or so I thought. After listening to Beats 1 nearly non-stop for the past 24 hours, I’ve become infatuated.
Listening to and being apart of a music service that not only streams music in 100 countries, but also features artists from around the world is powerful. Browsing through Zane Lowe’s Twitter mentions (or any of the other DJ’s for that matter) only reaffirms the experience.
Beats 1 isn’t the first live streaming radio station to reach beyond the limitations of a radio tower. Sirius XM has long offered live programming, and most radio stations offer live streams of their respective shows. However, what makes Beats 1 different from those other services is its ease of access. The radio station can be easily accessed on any iPhone, iPad, iPod or computer via iTunes. Parents can even let their kids listen to the station since Beats 1 only live-streams censored music.
I haven’t liked every song played on Beats 1, but the personal bond I instantly felt with each DJ has been strong enough for me to resist the urge to go back to a lifeless algorithm.