In a new interview today with The Los Angeles Times, Beats 1 host Zane Lowe discussed a few topics related to Apple Music's daily streaming radio show, including the company's rivals. Without directly referencing Spotify, Lowe explained the need for competition among streaming music platforms.
“This is a controversial statement: I don't ever want us to be the only streaming service on the block,” Lowe says. “There is no league with one team. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. But you're still in the game. Not to sound too holistic but I'm glad I'm in the game.”
Still, when Spotify was brought up during the interview -- comparing Apple Music's 40 million paid subscribers to Spotify's 83 million paid subscribers -- Lowe said he doesn't look to Spotify when thinking about Beats 1. "We're the only voice in streaming," he mentioned, referring to the streaming radio show. "That's not cockiness. It's fact."
Beats 1 is a 24/7 streaming radio channel comprised of a collection of radio shows hosted by different DJs throughout the day, including Julie Adenuga, Ebro Darden, and Lowe. Guest and celebrity hosts also include Elton John, Charli XCX, Pharrell, and St. Vincent. Shows range from artist interviews, listing current popular tracks on Apple Music, and more.
In response to Beats 1's success on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube are now believed to be looking into beefing up their radio-style programming as well.
Other services, however, are starting to mirror the Beats 1 mode of radio-style programming. In June, Spotify announced the hiring of Dawn Ostroff as its new chief content officer. Formerly of Conde Nast Entertainment and the CW network, she’ll oversee production of shows, radio stations, podcasts and episodic programming. YouTube Music’s Lyor Cohen has also indicated a desire to move into Beats 1-style programming.
Despite the apparent influence of Beats 1 in the market, The Los Angeles Times questioned Lowe directly regarding specific listener counts for the service's shows. Lowe dodged answering and stated that Beats 1 streams in "more than 100 countries," and doubled down on the service's ability to sell listeners new artists and ultimately convert them into paid Apple Music subscribers (anyone can listen to Beats 1 in the Apple Music app, but paid Apple Music subscribers get access to on-demand stations and shows).
Last year, head of content Larry Jackson said, “Beats 1 is the biggest radio station in the world.” Is it? Lowe sidesteps because to him the question is premature. He recalls advice given to him by Jimmy Iovine[...]
“Jimmy said to me at the beginning: be the thing that moves the needle.” For Lowe, that meant getting cozy with artists. Before when Lowe encouraged fans to buy artists' records, whether or not they did wouldn't affect his livelihood. “This directly affects my business. By that very nature we are in business together.”
In regards to Jimmy Iovine, the former Apple Music head this month transitioned to a "consulting role" for the company's streaming music service. According to people familiar with the matter, this means that Iovine has stepped back from daily involvement with Apple Music so that he can spend more time with his family, while also support Apple Music and Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue "as needed." The transition from Beats' "edgy culture" to Apple's focus on "appealing to the masses" reportedly proved to be a challenge for Iovine.
Beats 1 launched alongside Apple Music on June 30, 2015, kicking off with a day full of tracks that preceded an interview Lowe hosted with Eminem, the debut of St. Vincent's "Mixtape Delivery Service", and more. A few months after launch, Beats 1 eventually began saving replays of recent shows so subscribers could revisit an episode they missed at any time.
During the two-year anniversary of Beats 1 in 2017, Lowe said that he's "never been more excited about where Beats 1 is at this moment, and this is just the beginning."