Beats 1

Beats 1 is fun to listen to. It’s worldwide radio that has character and doesn’t feel formulaic. 

Some of the on air moments have felt risqué given Apple’s typically buttoned up nature, especially given that the audience includes listeners from more than 100 countries. The Ed Sheeran interview was an example of risqué.

Apple Music and Beats 1 feels like a different Apple—a bit bolder in flexing its cultural muscle. It reminds me of Tim Cook’s comment that after Jobs, “everything can change except the essence.”

Beats 1 also feels surprisingly intimate. Hearing “world first” debuts is interesting, and hearing shout outs to listeners and the stories  of the DJs in their broadcast cities roots the on air product in a way that doesn’t feel overly corporate. The actual voices of listeners aren’t on the airwaves yet, but I imagine that might change at some point. 

Also super interesting is that Beats 1 is embracing sponsorships. Since Beats 1 is available to any Apple user regardless of an Apple Music subscription, sponsorship makes some sense. But what’s interesting is the quality of the sponsorships, which are much closer to noncommercial radio sponsorships than commercial advertising.

Sponsors like American Express are announced live by the DJ and in very modest tones, similar to native podcast sponsorships or old time radio advertiser announcements. This contributes to the intimate feel of the product, because these announcements don’t disrupt the flow of the stream.

Neat to see a commercial product adopt a best practice from what has traditionally been the noncommercial side of radio.