The surprising genius of Apple’s Beats 1 radio

“When Apple announced it was creating an Internet radio station called Beats 1 to go along with its Apple Music service, I was dismissive,” Mike Elgan writes for Computerworld. “It didn’t make sense. There are already thousands of Internet radio stations broadcasting worldwide that have been around for years. The DJs Apple poached from the BBC and elsewhere have been streaming music on the Internet for years — and Apple’s fans barely noticed.”

“The Internet (and to a lesser extent cable TV) has destroyed something everyone over the age of 40 used to experience all the time, which is a universal and consistent shared media experience,” Elgan writes. “For the past couple of decades, everybody who is consuming content is consuming something different from what everybody else is consuming.”

“The only time that changes is around ‘events,’ such as the World Cup, the Super Bowl or the Oscars, or catastrophes like 9/11,” Elgan writes. “Beats 1 is the only medium that offers an always-there global shared content experience.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Beats 1 is genius and the loss of the “shared experience” is an issue. Movie or TV show quotations don’t work as well after the mid-late 90s as they do prior. Too many people haven’t seen or heard it. Yes, it’s nice to have so many choices (too many?), but a shared vocabulary is important. Leave it to Apple to identify an issue and offer a compelling solution.


  1. I haven’t cared much for Beats 1. I’ve checked in several times and never felt compelled to keep listening. Apple Music itself is great: I’m going to discontinue my long-standing Spotify subscription.

  2. I have listened to Beats1 and while some of the music they play isn’t what I would typically listen to, I very much like the format and enjoy the connectedness it brings. Shared experiences are vitally important in bringing a society together. Sometimes they are tragic (WWII, 9/11) but sometimes they are positive (moon landing). If Beats1 can in any part serve to bring people together then it will be a success in that regards.

  3. In other words, Apple is resurrecting the FM radio concept (long-form linear programming). Two generations of children (and eventually young adults) grew up completely missing the format, and now, they get a chance to re-discover it.

    Who knows, perhaps the same two generations, after completely migrating to text-based communications, will eventually re-discover the practicality and economy of a voice phone call….

    1. Key difference. It’s going to reach the majority of the worlds population. With one voice, in one language, without hate, without nationalism. Apple is set to do way more than music. Hope they don’t know evil.

    2. You have a point. Beats 1 is an awful lot like the best FM radio stations were back in the day, before corporate-managed playlists became the norm. Back then, DJs were pretty much allowed to play whatever they wanted, giving each show a unique character.


    1. If the “CH” stands for “contemporary hits”, you couldn’t be more wrong about Beats 1. If anything, they could criticized for being too hipster. You won’t find programming like Beats 1 on the current FM dial, at least not in most cities, outside of maybe college radio.


  4. and waiting on day one for the release of an album. I bought the White Album, LZ 3, and Springsteen’s Darkness albums on day one to name a few. I was 9 years old when I bought the White Album. My Dad had a fit: Five dollars for an album! But Dad it’s a double album!!

  5. Beats1 radio is OFF THE HOOK! Sure it doesn’t play everything I want, but I don’t care – it’s a shared experience and it’s great to hear and discover new sounds from all over the world. I like the programs that include artists, off-the-cuff comments – it’s freedom, it’s art…a lot of great vibes. Awesome job APPLE!

  6. Okay, I’m on the record as saying that I wasn’t enjoying Beats 1 because of what seemed to be an over-prevalence of hip-hop on the station. Well, I’ve been turned around.

    I was working out Sunday when I ran out of podcasts. Needing something to listen to, I figured I’d give Beats 1 yet another try. They were playing soul music. Hell, I can listen to that. I did, and enjoyed it. They moved from that to some curious dance tracks that were pretty good. Then a new DJ came on and started with a rock song, a f***ing awesome song from a band I’d never heard of (Mumford and Son). It was all I could do to keep from running around the gym cheering. I’m gonna buy that song, maybe the whole album.

    After that, they played something from Kanye West. But I forgave them.

    Anyway, I think I like the station now.


    1. yes Beats 1 is great for discovering stuff

      Mumford and Sons is among the best.
      If you have time Mumford singing “lovers eyes” at Bonnaroo 2011 clip is worth a watch : “”
      (don’t want to promote Google youtube but it’s a backstage thing and easiest way to see the clip)
      Listening to Mumford I got linked to Rufus Wainright (an under appreciated artist) who is also worth a look.

      Beats 1 is going to be significant game changer.
      On a broader sense it’s ‘connectedness’ is going to promote goodwill around the world , for Apple (lots of analysts haven’t looked at this) it might generate a lot of ‘halo effect’ sales.

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