AccuRadio CEO: Apple Music’s Beats 1 won’t garner a huge audience

“My prediction is that Beats 1 will be a disappointment,” Kurt Hanson, CEO of AccuRadio, a personalizable Internet radio service, writes for Radio and Internet News. “It’s an idea hatched by old-school record execs and musicians and air talent, based on an outdated mindset that it’s good to have a massive audience listening simultaneous to one linear stream of music as selected by powerful tastemakers (i.e., those old-school record execs and musicians and air talents). It’s like launching an FM station in 1976 in mono.”

“Users expect to be able to skip songs they don’t like, and they expect to rate or thumb-up or -down the songs they hear to influence the subsequent music played to them. (They also have grown to like the low ratio of talk-vs.-music on online radio — e.g., no voices jabbering over song intros or outros. But that’s a different topic),” Hanson writes. “Beats 1 rolls back the clock to the days before online radio became a one-to-one customizable product. Everyone will hear the same songs, unskippably. An upside is that the jocks will be able to talk up this week’s priority bands and albums. If it garners a huge audience, it will be a record executive’s dream! But my guess is that it won’t.”

“There is hope for Apple’s concept, however, and it may be part of their master plan, at least in the back of the minds of some of their staffers — and that’s if it makes financial sense for them to eventually launch a Beats 2 and Beats 3 and Beats 4,” Hanson writes. “Despite the existence for decades of satellite-delivered 24/7 syndicated formats, and the efforts of XM and Sirius, America has never had a great, live, national Top 40 station. Theoretically, that could be Beats 2. That might work. Top 40 listeners like the interplay of personalities and music.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: At this juncture, the jury’s still out. However, Zane Lowe has proven to be popular wherever he is “on the air,” so we expect him and Beats 1 to pick up a decent measure of listenership. Remember the naysayers when Howard Stern left terrestrial radio for Sirius satellite radio? His audience went with him – in droves – converting from free listeners to paying subscribers in the process.

We look at Beats 1 as an interesting experiment; something’s that’s certainly not at all critical to Apple Music’s success, but would be icing on the cake if it happened to strike a chord and develop a following.


  1. well, maybe, maybe not.

    i have no dog in this fight, perhaps it will succeed but i think he raises some interesting points.

    personally i prefer not to have a dj in between me and my music.

    and i am old enough to remember what a breath of fresh air fm was over the constant nattering of am disk jockeys.

    nothing like a minimum of voice in between whole sides of an album at a time.

  2. I’ve been listening to Beats 1 tonight. It sounds the same as BBC Radio 1, both in the music it plays and the style of the shows, which isn’t really surprising given that’s where Zane Lowe came from. As someone in their mid-30’s, neither Beats 1 nor Radio 1 is aimed at me and I won’t listen to either of them. That’s not to say it won’t be successful (Radio 1 gets 9-10 million listeners, around 15% of the UK population!) but I’m glad to see the BBC World Service in the Apple Music radio station list!

    1. I’m glad to see that Beats 1 is just a “station” in the overall “Radio” portion of iTunes. I have no problem with that… I can ignore it (or listen to it sometimes), and choose other stations or create my own stations based on my specific preferences.

      Before seeing the new iTunes, I feared Beats 1 would have a bigger “footprint” in the new Apple Music world, making it impossible to ignore.

  3. I can’t remember where I read it but apparently royalties are only payable on uninterrupted music played, so the DJ talks over the lead in and the lead out to cut down on the amount of royalties the radio stations have to pay.

  4. The guy that runs has the perfect ratio of talk to music. Usually 3 or 4 songs back to back, then a quick comment, maybe about an interesting link between a couple of the songs just played, then a reminder that you’re listening to Radio Paradise, then on with the next set. He covers a pretty wide range of genres, and sometimes it gets away from my tastes, but not for long. Apple Music would do well to have a station like his.

  5. How does this reviewer miss that people like to be “kept company” by the DJ – not to control the DJ like a Robot.

    Beats 1 is going to do well. Hell, BBC One would do well in NYC where there are ZERO radio stations that have anything to do with anything. There’s something about the LIVE Radio voice and the interconnectedness of LDN, NYC & LA and the international speed at which music flies from Brooklyn, to Ibiza, to Amsterdam, Paris, London and back that terrestrial NYC metro radio has totally skipped.

  6. Listening to the Zane Lowe show was like listening to someone with ADD have an orgasm while listening to the radio.

    Really, the guy could just not shut up. It’s bad enough to talk over the songs, but in the middle??? He also cut some songs way short.

    At first I thought Beats 1 was something different than radio and maybe it was only going to like one of those promo stations that only plays parts of songs with the DJ talking about why you want to get the album.

    And everything was so “INCREDIBLE”… we’re live! Apple Music! Beats 1! The first world-wide Internet Radio station (as if that means something).

    The next show was much more toned down with the promo and talking, but I was surprised that they had ads.

    But what really got me to switch from Beats 1 to the genre stations was that it was too much of a mix of music that I wouldn’t really care to hear. IOW, too much rap.

    Also, it’s frustrating when you hear a song that isn’t then available in Apple Music, or when a song like Freedom is being as frequently repeated as any other radio station would be repeating it.

    Beats 1 will likely end up being very successful, but I think I’m going to prefer the genre stations much more.

    1. I mostly agree you. Just listened to it little so far but did not like I heard — at all. To the article: I just want point out there is a lot be said for 1976 FM radio. Beats 1 could well by emulating it… Including the songs played…LOL.

  7. I have had beats1 on all day and i’m enjoying the format, it’s refreshing to have a dj who’s actually excited to be sitting there playing music. 2 complaints. i want to be able to grab a song from it which i haven’t been able to do so far. second the beats1 promos are played way too often we all know what we are listening to thats all. otherwise its great to leave on in my shop. its a great mix of music so it never gets boring.

  8. I actually prefer what we now call “curated” radio, although I liked it better when it was just called FM. Jim Ladd is the ultimate example of what I love about great DJs: incredible music knowledge, ability to create great playlists and a soothing voice that knows when to talk and when not to.

    And a shout-out to my childhood in New York and hours spent listening to Cousin Brucie. It wasn’t high fidelity, it wasn’t freeform, but for millions of us with our transitor radios, he was the music world of the 1960s.

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