T3 Opinion: Apple's Beats 1 Is just another radio station

But that's okay, because it's a fairly interesting one as radio goes

Launching a live music service was always a weird decision for Apple. Some have described it as ego massaging by executives. But in my view there's nothing inherently wrong with that, if Dre and Iovine want a radio station and Tim Cook is prepared to pay for it, I don're really care.

The big problem for me is that Beats 1 is just another radio station. The slight problem Apple is going to have here, of course, is that programming a radio station in one country is hard enough, but it's going to be near-on impossible to keep everyone in the world happy.

To listen to Beats is quite a mix. Some described it as "genre-free" but that's not the case. I think what Apple has done is kept it away from the thing that make radio stations quite tedious - namely playlisting.

If you don't know, when you put together a radio station in the UK you will more than likely have a bit of software that generates the music for each hour. You can build in time for adverts and "banter" but the music is usually automatically selected. This is done so that you playout an even mix of chart music across the day. You should hear the number one song more times than the number 10 tune, but you should hear both a certain number of times in any day.

It's here that Apple has gone a different route. Either the DJs are playlisting their own shows, or there are teams working to playlist for them. That's interesting, but it still doesn't differentiate Apple's Beats 1 from any other radio station.

Long-term play?

I don't know how thing will work out for Beats 1 long term. It requires that the audience has a very US/UK centric taste. As things stand now there are no outposts in other countries offering a different selection of music to what you might normally hear. Perhaps this will come with time, and I am enjoying the idea that someone in the US has listened to Julie Adenuga playing some fairly British-sounding music that they might not normally get to hear.

I suspect Beats 1 is quite a new sound for a US audience, which tends to have much more genre-based stations. Country, Rock, Top 40, that kind of thing. This is a little bit more like Radio 1 and Radio 1 Xtra merged.

Ultimately, Beats 1 is a pretty good station if you want to hear a much broader range of music in a short time than you usually would. Apple Music is, of course, a wider proposition than just this station, but it's interesting to see one of the world's biggest companies start doing old media. Even so, Apple does bring some interesting things with it. For one, there's very little in the way of advertising. I did hear a mention of American Express, but that was just once. Add in the minimal talking, it's mostly about music - and that's a rarity even on good stations.

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