Why I Feel Cooler Listening to Beats 1

When Apple announced the launch of Apple Music, most of my social feeds were focused on the Spotify-like product and debated who might possibly give up their years of playlist curation on Spotify in favor of the new service. However, for me, I didn’t have much interest in that side of the announcement (truth be told, I haven’t even really tried it yet). But I was very, very interested in Beats 1 — Which many of my friends seemed to gloss over. I couldn’t wait to see what Zane Lowe would do with Beats 1.

After having a somewhat frustrating experience of “how the hell do I even listen to this?” moment on the morning of launch, I finally noticed that I had to update my iOS in order to find Beats 1. I think this was a pretty big oversight by Apple, assuming people would know what to do, but I was unable to listen until I found myself on a wi-fi connection later in the day. Bummer. However, when I finally was able to tune in on Wednesday and heard Zane announce “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening”, I was pretty excited — Mostly because I’m a radio nerd. Us radio people knew Zane. The music industry knew Zane. And now, the world is going to know Zane.

Beats 1 isn’t going after Spotify — It’s going after radio. And you know what, they should. For years, terrestrial radio stations have played it safe, playing the same playlists from city to city. You hear the same songs over and over. The great hosts are told to play more music, talk less & the up and coming DJ’s are being replaced by someone 2,000 miles away. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into the typical bash of syndicated and corporate radio. I was the guy who lead the launch of Elvis Duran & Bobby Bones into national syndication, after all, and anyone should be lucky to have hosts of their caliber on their station — no matter what city they are in. But what I am saying is that the music and programming… well, it’s getting stale. And to be clear, I’m talking about every format.

But not on Beats 1. I’d love to tell you that I was into music enough that I knew all of the songs they are playing, but the truth is, I maybe have known 10% of the songs that I’ve heard. And the playlist is all over the place. From Notorious B.I.G. to Foo Fighters, then some UK artist that sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard, and the DJ likes it so much that they play another track from the same artist back-to-back! Truth is, none of it comes close to my typical playlist… and that is awesome. Listening to Beats 1 is like having that one friend in high school that knew of all the cool new artists before anyone else and made you a mixtape. I feel cooler listening to it, no matter how lame that may sound. Don’t believe me? Follow @Beats1Plays on Twitter and you can track the playlist yourself. (Side note: I can’t wait for my hipster friends in Williamsburg to tell me how this playlist sucks). But on top of the music (and more importantly), you have world class DJ’s like Ebro Darden, Julie Adenuga, freaking Josh Homme (and multiple other amazing artists) and… Zane Lowe.

Beats 1 probably won’t become the only thing I listen to. I will still want to sprinkle in Brand New with Joe Diffie playlists and listen to podcasts like Buck Sexton & great stations like KCRW. I’m all over the place — And maybe that’s why Beats 1 works for me. But do you know when I will be listening to Beats 1 for sure? Whenever anyone is in my car and I don’t want to fight over (or think about) what to play. When I have people over at my house and want great music on in the background. And, yes, whenever I want to feel just a bit cooler as I ride the BART into San Francisco each morning.

So what do I think happens to terrestrial radio now? I don’t know… probably not much. What do I hope happens? I hope everyone looks at this and can feel the fun that Apple is having making Beats 1 — That everyone can hear the fun with this crazy playlist and that they become inspired to do the same. Can every top 40 station get away with what Beats 1 is doing? Of course not. But maybe it will inspire a couple of stations to throw a deep track in there, maybe “break the format” once in a blue moon. Possibly let their talent actually showcase their talent they way Apple is. You know, maybe get a little more creative? I really hope all of my radio friends are listening and as excited about what is going on over at Apple — This, to me, is really the coolest thing I’ve seen come out of Apple in a really long time.

Chris Peterson currently works in Programming at TuneIn in San Francisco, CA. He previously worked at TheBlaze Radio Network, as well as Premiere Networks as Brand Manager for Glenn Beck, Elvis Duran, Bobby Bones and more. Find Chris on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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