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Zane Lowe on Beats 1: ‘Time will tell’ if Apple Music really needs us


In a Radio Festival interview in London by Zane Lowe‘s former boss, Lowe told Radio 1 head Ben Cooper that Beats 1 is like a new-born baby.

We’ll grow up, but right now we’re three months old, and babies make a lot of noise, they look at the world all wide-eyed and they shit everywhere. That’s kind of what Beats 1 is, it’s very, very new, 13 weeks man, it’s crazy. It’s all new and weird – and no rules man, no rules.

He said that despite the high-profile nature of the station, he wasn’t taking its future for granted. Asked why Apple Music needs Beats 1, Lowe said he wasn’t sure that it did … 

Time will tell. We’ve been going three months. For me to sit here and go, Here are 10 reasons why Apple needs Beats 1 would be to suggest that we have the answers. I don’t have the answers. We’re making it up as we’re going along. I hope there’s a place for it, I feel right now there is, it’s absolutely working right now, but this is a work in progress and overtime we’ll find out why Apple Music needs Beats 1

The decision to leave Radio 1 had not, he said, been an easy one.

I said yes, and then I said no, and then I said yes, and then I said I’m not sure. Because relocation isn’t cut and dry, and leaving the BBC is not cut and dry; you don’t take that decision lightly at all.

One difference had been that at Radio 1 he was given daily listener numbers, while Apple doesn’t do that. The company told him not to worry about numbers, but simply to “go out and make noise.”

The key to making a station work globally, said Lowe, was to make it all about the music.

We know Tokyo and Mexico City love Beats 1, so we’ve found a language that is common, and I believe that language is music. I loved waking up and listening to a good breakfast show when I was living in London, but every time I hear someone talk to a reality TV star, or talk about what’s in the papers, you’re off message from what I want, which is music. So I put the spotlight entirely on music. I’m bringing it back to music every single time.

The full interview, over at Music Week, is well worth a read.

Apple Music is facing its biggest test to date, as initial three-month free trials end and the company will find out how many of its customers choose to pay for the service. Among 9to5Mac readers, our poll suggests around half of you are – but that’s of course a sample heavily skewed toward Apple fans.


Top photo: Rhiannon Williams/Telegraph

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  1. Jake Becker - 8 years ago

    “no rules”


  2. David Krug - 8 years ago

    I would probably listed more if there were more than one station available. It seems like 3/4 of the time that I tune in, they’re playing urban music which I’m generally not interested in.

    • Steve Grenier - 8 years ago

      You should try listening to Travis Mills’ Requests. Nice variety there.

  3. chrisl84 - 8 years ago

    Did not listen to a single second of beats 1 during my three month trial….after you turn 19 you stop watching MTV and listening to these kinds of radio stations.

    • mockery17 - 8 years ago

      So you’re suggesting that everyone should abandon this service, judging without actually using the service for a single second?

      • chrisl84 - 8 years ago

        Made no such assertions….read it again with 5th grade reading level and you will see that I made it quite clear that Beats 1 is for high schoolers, so where did I suggest high schoolers should abandon Beats 1? So easy to annoy pop music tools like yourself.

      • mockery17 - 8 years ago

        So how would you know Beats 1 is for high schoolers without actually listening to it for a single second? Or you’re just being judgmental without actually listening to it?

      • chrisl84 - 8 years ago

        Listen to Zane talk about it….its not that difficult.

    • stoplion22 - 8 years ago

      Is it satisfying, I wonder, being no fun as a matter of principle? Glad you’re proud of “rising above” new music though I guess, how “adult” of you.

      • chrisl84 - 8 years ago

        Ahhhh I hurt the tool who thinks Zane is cool…..its okay I was 12 once too.

      • stoplion22 - 8 years ago

        Woops watch out, your insecurities are showing when you have to resort to petty name calling like that

    • Josh Keyes (@doctorjo5) - 8 years ago

      MTV doesn’t even play music anymore. Also, if you were born in 84 and are only 30, you’re still pretty young.
      How do you know the demographics of the people that listen to beats 1? Just curious since Apple doesn’t release the numbers…
      I don’t love pop either but I really don’t love people who think they know everything when they don’t. No one knows it all.

    • jakexb - 8 years ago

      I’m quite a bit older than 19 and I’ve really enjoyed it. Zane Lowe’s show, but also St. Vincent and Elton John and Abstract Radio.

  4. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

    I never really listened to the radio due to commercials and/or the DJ butting in and adding pretty much no value. Plus I don’t like someone else curating what I listen to. I think they are getting these famous DJ’s and other celebrities is because the younger crowd puts these people on a pedestal because they haven’t learned how to judge what to listen to on their own so they need someone else telling them what to listen to as long as they’re famous.

    All I care about is the sound quality, quality of consistent streaming which is partly between my own iSP to my device, and then having the content I want to listen to.

    Unfortunately, they don’t have everything in Apple Music, or anyone else for that matter.

    I just wish Apple bought Tidal instead and offered both the less expensive Lossy and the more expensive Lossless so we could choose between the two.

    • stoplion22 - 8 years ago

      The way you say it, it’s almost like you would only like music if it hasn’t been promoted by anyone, anywhere. Ooh your musical tastes are so deep and profound. Loosen up a bit and try some new things man. It’s also confusing to me that you are taking the stance you’re taking, but then saying you wish they had bought Tidal, which acts like the epitome of celebrity pedestal circle jerking.

  5. stoplion22 - 8 years ago

    Gosh you guys are downers. Beats 1 is awesome. Might be my favourite part of Apple Music. The genres are all over the map, yes they sway towards music genres that are popular with the younger crowd- but that (since at least the 50s or so) is not a new phenomenon.

    A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Abstract Radio and a 9 minute Ugandan funk-rock tune came on for god’s sake. Ugandan funk-rock. This is not Top 40 pop radio, open your minds up to new things!

  6. uniszuurmond - 8 years ago

    Beats 1 (and Connect) only confuses the whole issue. Apple Music would have been a lot simpler and easier to use if it was only about My Music and Streaming Music, and where the two of them actually talks to each other, recommending music and not introducing me to stuff I already have. Then I might have stayed.

  7. Alex Gollner - 8 years ago

    Why Beats 1? So when Apple introduce a worldwide video feed channel, they can explain it as “Like Beats 1, but for video – a combination of your videos and curators you trust”

  8. jamessmooth - 8 years ago

    Wait… 100 people in the survey are switching to Tidal?

  9. Chandler (@piacere2327) - 8 years ago

    Well, call me a teenager (40) or whatever, but I tune in every now (like every 2 days maybe) and pretty often I keep it running for an hour or two and discovered a bunch of songs that I easily add to a specific playlist just for that. I like it and look forward to more beats stations that bring even more variety. What I find disturbing are the overly “hip-cool” jingles for their own shows. But I’m an overall fan of curated music – when I want it. So beats 1 and apple music playlists are the real value point for me to pay for Apple Music.

    btw: “no rules”??? really??? I don’t recall anyone saying f*ck on air or hearing an explicit version a song :)

  10. Drew (@gettysburg11s) - 8 years ago

    Its not a great endorsement (for the radio station), for a radio DJ to say that the owner of the company might not need the station. I think if you love Hip-Hop, you’ll love Beats 1. If not, well, maybe not so much. I listened to it a little at the beginning, but guess what? Really no rock music on it. So, I won’t waste my time. Maybe Apple will have Genre stations later on? I hope so.

  11. jakexb - 8 years ago

    Why are people saying that he said he didn’t know “if Apple needed Beats 1”. This is what he said:

    “For me to sit here and go, Here are 10 reasons why Apple needs Beats 1 would be to suggest that we have the answers. I don’t have the answers… overtime we’ll find out why Apple Music needs Beats 1”

    He’s not saying that Beats 1 isn’t needed. He’s saying that Beats 1 is evolving and that he’s just focusing on making it great. Other people will have to do the business school case study of how it fits into Apple’s overall music strategy.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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