“Not just radio reimagined. Radio like you’ve never imagined” says the Apple Music website.
The news that Apple is launching a streaming radio station called Beats 1 makes big news but will it make big waves?
Far from being “radio like you’ve never imagined” with Zane Lowe promising to play plenty of new records he likes it feels very similar to radio that’s been around for decades. In the UK we know it as post-7pm Radio One. A niche listen that even the bold BBC wouldn’t put on in prime-time.
It makes much more sense when you see it in the context of Apple’s other music announcements. They’re launching a whole range of streaming services and a new music social network called Connect.
It’s not so long ago Apple were the dominant music retailer selling downloads through iTunes. Then along came streaming services like Spotify and Pandora and suddenly iTunes looked old and stodgy.
This month’s launches are designed to get Apple back to number one musically. They’ll be hoping you hear Zane Lowe play a new track on Beats 1, follow the band on their Connect platform and stream them through Apple Music.
It’s not broadcast radio that Apple has in its sights, it’s the algorithm driven streamers. Zane Lowe and his colleagues will be giving Apple’s streaming services a human touch that Spotify doesn’t provide.
Where broadcast radio should pay attention is that Apple are heavily using the “radio” word. Unlike the broadcasters who seem determined to be multi-platform content providers Apple are being relatively old fashioned. It’s radio – you press a button and some sound comes your way. Apple see radio as valuable, that’s for sure.