Just over six weeks after the launch of Apple Music, Billboard has published a wide-ranging interview with lead radio DJ Zane Lowe, in which he talks about Beats 1, collaborating with Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor, familiarizing himself with American radio stations, moving to Los Angeles from London and a number of other topics.
Lowe reflected on the first weeks of Beats 1, noting that the personality of the radio station is still developing, with no particular emphasis on which music genres are played. Electronic, alternative rock and hip-hop have been some of the most popular genres on Beats 1 so far, but Lowe ensured there are no set parameters for music.
There’s a lot of electronic music, edgy rock and hip-hop on Beats 1. Are there set genres you’re pursuing?
No, not really. We’ve played country music, Mexican house music, South American EDM, German hip-hop. I’ve never been a fan of, “We’ve got to get 22 percent of rock, 17 percent of R&B; where’s our 16 percent of hip-hop and our 9 percent of country?” If you do it that way, you’re not basing it on the merit of the music. You’re basing it on some kind of obligation.
How about pop?
The other day I heard the new 5 Seconds of Summer record, and I was like, “Could I play that on my show?” It was really strange. My whole perception shifted, because I had never played 5 Seconds of Summer before; they went straight to [BBC's mainstream] Radio 1 daytime and never really crossed my path. Then I heard this song, and it just sounds like SoCal pop-punk. Cool!
Lowe said that he first met Dr. Dre while he was meeting with Apple's Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine about coming to Los Angeles, adding that the iconic hip-hop artist had an "huge influence" on his life while growing up. He also noted that Beats 1 was essentially the idea of Apple Music chief creative director and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.
Beats 1 was basically Trent Reznor's idea?
Yeah. I'm not sure if you've had a chance to sit with Trent, but he's one of the most intelligent, eloquent, passionate people I've ever met, not just for art, but also the way people can use it. He's really committed to the user experience, so his whole thing was like, "People have been splintered off into individual experiences -- let's see if we can bring them back together and if so, what would that feel like for the user? What if they're using it on a device in a music service, and not in the traditional places where radio is experienced?" It was incredibly useful for me to hear him say that because it really [solidified] some of the ideas that I'd been kicking around but wasn't sure if I was on the right path. What is really valuable and exciting about radio is the connection to a community. Trent has been incredibly supportive every step of the way.
The full-length profile at Billboard is a worthwhile read for those interested in learning more about Lowe's lifestyle and his transition from BBC 1 Radio to running a flagship show on Beats 1. You can listen to Zane Lowe on Beats 1 every Monday-Thursday between 9 AM and 11 AM Pacific, with a rebroadcast between 9 PM and 11 PM Pacific.