When comparing Beats 1 to traditional radio, people forget to separate radio the technology from radio the format. Many of us loved the old radio format but over time the balance tilted heavily in favor of ratings, turning radio into a top 40 playlist on repeat, constantly telling us what’s popular rather than informing what is.
Beats 1 is radio with a technology upgrade and Apple’s backing. This pushes the format forward, helping it reclaim some of which made it great such as curation, the communal listening experience and host personalities while limiting the crap. We also get some new cool stuff like artist shows, set playlists for shows you missed and saving tracks for later while they are, wait for it, playing on the radio. I personally think it’s killer that the DJ’s come to us from different cities around the world, injecting the music culture from those cities into Beats 1.
Some people never really liked the radio and they will probably hate Beats 1. Some won’t like the music they play, no matter how varied it is. But that’s why Apple Music has 30 million songs you can stream with the tap of a button.
Beats 1 is Apple’s attempt to make radio relevant again as a force that helps push music culture forward. Personally I think they’ll be successful but at the very least I’m happy they are trying.