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Beats 1 - botched, lazy and uninspiring

James Cridland tries to listen to Apple Music's new global radio station, and is not impressed

By James Cridland
Posted 1 July 2015, 8.20am edt

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I picked up the iPad, prodded around in what I thought was the Music app to no avail, asked Siri "How do I listen to Beats 1?" (it didn't know), and eventually turned to Twitter to ask what I needed to do: to see many other people in my Twitter stream doing similar.

"I am totally perplexed", said one person. Another "I was just Googling the same question." Later, one radio professional said "I've been trying to listen for over an hour, but I can't get in. So I won't bother."

It turned out that I needed an OS upgrade: one that was so new the iPad had yet to notify me there was one available. So I settled into the upgrade routine. At least Apple, unlike Android, lets you force-update a device.

As I sat, watching the device download and then install the new update, I listened to an illicit rebroadcast of the Beats 1 stream, and heard the station going live. The first three tracks: Spring King's City, Beck's Dreams and Jamie xx's Gosh.

I'm not a radio programmer, but I loathe radio DJs singing along to songs. I hate people who play jingles over the top of songs badly. (If you're going to do that, pre-produce your drops to beat-match and respect the music). Talking over the middle break, or badly talking over a song that ends, is really, really fucking annoying. There is a special place in hell for radio presenters who attempt to do any of these things. Zane Lowe will spend his entire afterlife there.

I'm not a radio programmer, but I found it curious that the first promo we heard was for Julie Adenuga promoting "her next show". Given that she hadn't been on the radio station, it should have been a promo made specially telling people to join her for "her first show".

I'm not a radio programmer, but a random promo for a hitherto unannounced programme that tells us that "people have been writing in" to ask for songs treats the audience as if we're gullible idiots, and a promo that doesn't actually explain that it's a) a radio programme, and b) when to listen appears a little strange.

I do, however, have some technical understanding, so was confused to hear looping audio, and the same segment of link about three times. It wasn't just me: everyone got that. Streaming audio is not complicated - we've been doing it for years. So how come Apple screwed it up?

I got the app up and running, and after some curious error messages, I was in. After running a music radio website for years, I'm aware what people want to know when listening to a radio station. The top thing is "what song did I just hear?" - and there's no way of swiping back through the song history to find out. Any time spent with radio professionals would have told Apple that.

The app displays a static cover image, and three horizontal dots hides a context menu with more options - to launch an artist station, to add the song to a playlist, and one presumes to play the album in full, though I don't subscribe to Apple Music. One music professional described these links as "astonishing". But since every radio station in TuneIn does similar (including buy links), and I was even doing "add this song to a playlist" on the Virgin Radio website in 2004, I found the astonishment astonishing. This is the bare minimum. I couldn't connect with artists in Connect; I couldn't tweet the artist; I couldn't see if they were playing live anywhere. Any time spent with radio professionals would have told Apple that.

The app doesn't display any station branding, nor any links to schedules, any way of interacting with the live programming, or anything else. Any time spent with radio professionals would have told Apple how useful that would have been.

The Apple Music app comes with a big link to genre radio stations, and - surprisingly - other stations too. In the US, they have ESPN, NPR and Radio Disney there. In the UK we get one: the BBC World Service, which is exactly the wrong radio station to highlight: it should be either Radio 1, Radio 2 or Radio 4, since the World Service is not aimed at a UK audience. Or, frankly, talkSPORT or Capital. Any time spent with radio professionals from each Apple Music territory could have told them this.

In all, then, I found it a distinctly underwhelming experience. Apple have launched a live, linear radio station - something you'll see in this presentation just doesn't work on mobile phones. They've done the bare minimum in terms of integration. The radio producers have been lazy with their production. Tuning in is unintuitive on iOS, and was impossible on OSX at launch. The launch was botched, confused, lazy, uninspiring and most of all, deeply ignorant.

But at least they've tried, right?

---postscript---

It might be worthwhile pointing out that I applaud Apple for trying to run a live radio station. I applaud its use of radio presenters, and even if I don't much care for the programming, I applaud that they're trying. Human curation is a good thing. We should see more of it.

Apple is a company who has innovated with so much of what it's done. It's pulled a lot of industries up to its level. Smartphones were dreadful before Apple came along. Laptops were great big ugly beasts. UX, in general, owes a great debt to Apple's work. Apple's stuff is normally consistently ahead of the game.

If Beats 1 was launched by any other company, I'd be pretty impressed at what it had achieved. I think I'm just disappointed that Apple has done such a mediocre job - for Apple - at this. Great expectations, and all that. That is the source of my disappointment.

More information

Beats 1
Global
James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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Comments

PRO2 years ago

Here's a review of Apple Music from Bob Lefsetz - thanks, @andyvale for this. He entitles it "botched launch".

Want to listen for yourself? Here's an unofficial link. It'll work on some devices (Safari, or Android) but not others (Chrome, MSIE).

2 years ago

"It turned out that I needed an OS upgrade: one that was so new the iPad had yet to notify me there was one available. So I settled into the upgrade routine. At least Apple, unlike Android, lets you force-update a device."

This is petty and just displays real lack of technical competence. Launch for iTunes 12.2 happened on 30 June, as promised, so where's the beef?

"but I loathe radio DJs singing along to songs. I hate people who play jingles over the top of songs"

DMCA requires interruption; and interruption changes royalty rates greatly.

"so was confused to hear looping audio"

Check Twitter for the general response to Beats1 - stunningly positive. You sound like someone who doesn't either like radio or understand that even live is mix of live, live-to-tape, and edits, and clearly have no time for a new broadcast to XX million people. Lame.

"The app doesn't display any station branding, nor any links to schedules, any way of interacting with the live programming, or anything else. Any time spent with radio professionals would have told Apple how useful that would have been. "

You don't understand DMCA: it specifically precludes pre-schedules being displayed. The post-schedule is found on the DJs page. Admittedly it's weird it's not linked obviously from the Beats1 cover link, but all you have to do is search for the DJ's name (Zane Lowe) and you get his bio and the post-schedule / playlist.

https://itunes.apple.com/se/curator/zane-lowe-on-beats-1/id990050553?l=en

"The app displays a static cover image, and three horizontal dots hides a context menu with more options - to launch an artist station, to add the song to a playlist, and one presumes to play the album in full"

This is in fact a problem: the linking around of content is shit and bizarre, in partic the weird fake-nice relationship between the Apple Music and iTunes Download sections. But - Spotify is seriously not much better, and this is the first iteration. Once you understand that you have to get the music into the My Music section, and then you have more options, it's pretty smooth.

"just doesn't work on mobile phones. They've done the bare minimum in terms of integration. The radio producers have been lazy with their production. Tuning in is unintuitive on iOS, and was impossible on OSX at launch. The launch was botched, confused, lazy, uninspiring and most of all, deeply ignorant."

In sum, you come across as petulant, technically ignorant, middle-aged and incompetent in relation to technology, and entirely unimpressed by the scale of the launch, and it's huge success with so many diverse audiences. I had not listened to radio for 10 years, but this captured my attention. The links were short, promoting as much as a new radio should be, and rather humble considering, and the playlists were fantastic, as everyone but you seems to have noticed. Radio, after all, is about content, not just production.

Enough from me, not sure your article deserves this input.

2 years ago

It's weird hearing Zane Lowe sell something that's not a song he seems to really really REALLY like.

I hope the music policy (whatever they aim it to be) settles down in a few weeks' time. I don't know if the station is for me, more so because I'm not interested in buying Apple Music. (TuneIn is still my friend; Deezer, occasionally.)

It does sound too Western. Too urban-biased, but then again it seems they're following where the iTunes chart is. (Side note: how can Beats 1 "break" a song if it isn't on Apple Music in the first place?) And I find the repeated-after-12-hours thing lazy. My waking hours are during the reruns; I feel shortchanged.

But my biggest problem is indeed the reliability of the stream. Apart from the jumps back, there are times when the stream just drops and I couldn't access it for five minutes. Fifteen minutes before a drop is my average. Perhaps it's my Internet connection, but this does not look good for Apple.

PRO2 years ago

John M - thanks so much for your critique. It's good that an architect from Sweden has such knowledge of the industry I've been working in for 26 years. But, a few responses if I may:

  • iTunes 12.2 for OSX wasn't generally available until after the launch of Beats 1, as any number of tech blogs will tell you. The iOS update wasn't available until a few hours before launch. Nothing that I wrote above was inaccurate. I certainly wasn't expecting an actual OS upgrade just to update an app!
  • The DMCA (which is only applicable for the US, incidentally) doesn't require DJs talking over the top of songs, or playing jingles over them, or interrupting them in any way. The DMCA specifically says I can't pre-promote tracks, so "coming next: AC/DC's Back in Black" would be banned, and I've not asked for that because I understand the rules. However, it says nothing about posting a list of songs I've just played. It doesn't say I cannot pre-promote radio shows: if it did, every single radio station in the US would be in breach.

In sum, you come across as petulant, technically ignorant, middle-aged and incompetent in relation to technology, and entirely unimpressed by the scale of the launch, and it's huge success with so many diverse audiences.

You're entirely right that I'm middle-aged. Congratulations on your use of Google. And I'm glad you understood that I'm entirely unimpressed by the scale of the launch. There is little to be impressed by. There's nothing complicated about doing what Apple have done, and there's little scale to be impressed by here. Not to brag, but I used to run the online side of the world's most listened-to radio station, then worked online within the world's biggest broadcaster, so I might know a thing or two.

I've not commented too much on the content, since I am outside the target group and am not a radio programmer, so not qualified to do so. However, I have considerable expertise in the technical nuts and bolts. There is nothing that is impressive here: a poor UI, a relatively uninspiring product, skipping streaming, and nothing truly inspirational and game-changing. That's what Apple used to be about. A shame it isn't any more.

2 years ago

Wow. That was a very American world view. John M's comment that is. As a massive fan of Apple I have to admit that Apple Music, Beats 1 and the streams are incredibly unimpressive. What annoyed me more than anything is how the music app has changed from being great for my music -what I've paid for- to becoming quite bad at everything its trying to achieve. Having worked with content since 1989 I wouldn't rate the content of these streams particularly high. The only highlight was the presenter in New York. That being said I can't forgive Apple for ruining the app I use to play the music I've bought in their shop.

2 years ago

I answered your actual points, such as they were clear, and I specifically indicated where the post-schedule was placed which you couldn't find.

As for your technical expertise, go ahead and show it. There are many cooks in the kitchen for iPlayer / radioplayer, and I have had detailed conversations, some years back, with one of the key architects of it, who you also know. I don't hear much expertise in what you write.

But you and your friends seem to get off being all cantakerous and ham-radio-know-it-all together, while illuminating precisely nothing about the strategic, technical, social, economic, cultural aspects of this phenomenon.

How about you impress me and others by explaining how they pulled it off - technically did a simulcast to multiple online platforms with minimal buffering, and a small crash out. Protocols? Hardware? Server software and system design? Or is that not your technical skill? If not, what is it? Mumbling darkly about grand achievements in the past, while not presenting tech creds cuts little ice, surely.

What gets my goat is that you style yourself as 'radio expert' but haven't got a fig more to say about the largest channel launch in radio history. Not very visionary. I'd be delighted to debate the future of radio, but this seems hardly the place for it.

And yes, not very technical.

But don't let me get in the way of your bah-humbug-society and me-too would-be-technical meanderings.

There's a world going on out there, gotta keep up with that.

2 years ago

Or as a friend put it on Facebook..."Here's all you need to know about Apple's new music streaming service: Unlike other streaming services, there is no free tier.
BYE!"

PRO2 years ago

How about you impress me and others by explaining how they pulled it off - technically did a simulcast to multiple online platforms with minimal buffering, and a small crash out.

A "simulcast to multiple online platforms" - that does sound very grand! There's not much to pull off. It's a single HLS stream, using twenty second chunks, with a potential buffer of two minutes. It's being played by the native iOS/OSX libraries. (It didn't require any OS upgrade). When I heard the looping, I'm guessing it was replaying the same twenty-second chunk a few times. One thing to note about this HLS stream is that it'll cope relatively well with bursty connections on iOS devices. It should give a smoother experience than most streaming stations as a result, particularly when driving. Sadly, Google has an unfixed bug with Android's HLS library, which'll make it harder for Android listeners to get the same kind of experience; if they use the standard Android libraries then Android listeners will be around 100 seconds behind iOS devices, and will get a choppier experience. Having said all that, around two-thirds of the audience will be listening via wifi not cellular, according to the research I've done, so it won't cause too much of a concern.

the largest channel launch in radio history

It isn't, though. You're right, this isn't the place to discuss the future of radio, because this isn't that, either.

2 years ago

I think what is particularly surprising is how un-thought out and how unprepraed the launch seemed.

Apple is a very large company - larger than BBC, larger than Global, larger than iHeartMedia. It has tremendous technical and financial resources. Yet it seems like they spent none of those to ensure a flawless launch.

Even the the 1960's, radio stations launched after weeks of rehearsal and technical implementation behind the scenes where every detail were sweated out with only the fluke bloopers likely to happen.

As James noted, it wasn't that hard to flight out and script effective promos so that they conveyed relevant, timely information and aired at the appropriate times. But its seems they didn't even bother to think those details out or even coordinate to make sure it was likely an required software updates were likely already installed by users well in advance of the launch.

Would BBC have launched a digital side-channel in this state?

PRO2 years ago

I'd love to have listened to Beats 1 yesterday, however I'm an Android user and I couldn't find an app to listen to it.

I remember installing iTunes on my Windows PC and found it to be bloatware, so quickly got rid of it.

If Apple are serious about gaining listeners who then could sign for for Apple Music, give out a URL for a stream where I can listen on AIMP, WMP, Winamp etc and an app for Android so I can judge for myself before committing.

Even Spotify have this right when I can stream for free on Chrome.

2 years ago

Wow - so according to John M we now need "technical expertise" to listen to a radio station? I thought Apple's USP was meant to be that everything was simple and intuitive?

Maybe it's some kind of clever reverse-marketing technique - but I tend to agree with James that it's probably just a rushed, botched launch. Maybe they will be quick learners though, through free consultancy on forums like this...

2 years ago

Hi James,

I too was unimpressed with the first 12 hours of Beats1, it was plagued with a few technical difficulties. I work as a software engineer, and to be honest technical hitches are to be expected. No amount of testing or quality control can isolate every issue, Often many issues only present themselves when you release to the general public and you have millions of people using your service. The loop back issue was isolated to their cloud services hosted by Amazon.

Also regarding the delayed release of some software, Apple like most tech companies, uses a content delivery network (CDN) to distribute software to the general public. Akamai is the company that delivers something like 80% of the commercial downloadable content. When a piece of software is created by Apple/Dell/Microsoft, its then sent to Akamai to be proliferated around the world on their servers. This proliferation takes time, and while Apple has enough experience to be able to time these things often the general distribution of Akamai is beyond their control.

For example, I'm in Australia. I had both updates long before Beats1 launched. The closest Akamai server for us is Singapore.

I general the launch was botched, its not what we have come to expect from a company like Apple.

Thanks for your article, its nice to hear the opinion of someone who has experience in the streaming field.

PRO2 years ago

Hi, Garrett - thanks for your comments.

The loop back issue was isolated to their cloud services hosted by Amazon.

D'you have a source for this? The streams appear to be delivered via itsliveradio.apple.com and itsliveradiobackup.apple.com which are Akamai-delivered. I'd be very surprised if Apple were using Amazon infrastructure.

[ec2-user@ip-10-75-36-95 ~]$ ping itsliveradio.apple.com
PING a1567.d.akamai.net (92.123.72.89) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from a92-123-72-89.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com (92.123.72.89): icmp_seq=1 ttl=50 time=0.664 ms

Apple's not using much that's new here - HLS streams which are now entirely encrypted, incidentally. There's little testing to be done.

When a piece of software is created by Apple/Dell/Microsoft, its then sent to Akamai to be proliferated around the world on their servers. This proliferation takes time [...] For example, I'm in Australia. I had both updates long before Beats1 launched. The closest Akamai server for us is Singapore.

Well, this very website works the same way: you're viewing this via a CDN that, for you, is either in Sydney or in Melbourne, depending on your location and ISP. It doesn't take long - microseconds - for your local edge point to get the file you're viewing now. There's no delay deploying to a CDN that's longer than a second or so.

What happens typically is threefold on an update:

First, a device occasionally checks back to discover whether an update is waiting for it. It might only check once every day or so; so if an update appears an hour after the device last checked, it'll be ignorant of that until it checks again. You can hurry these checks up, of course.

Second, it may be a staged rollout, so only 10% of devices are given a new update, then another slice of devices, then another. All of Android works in this way. Apple tends not to do staged rollouts, which is both good for the power user (I want it NOW!) and bad for the normal Joe (if the update's buggy, everyone gets it).

Third, the actual download might be queued. This happened to me: my iPad didn't download the new update for five minutes; with a simple message onscreen saying "Upgrade requested".

Given the poor quality of the new Apple Music app: many report it crashing, it displays placeholder text when it first starts, it's an oddly poor experience and an MVP in some cases, I suspect that the launch window was simply too short, and that they were working on the release right up to launch day. Again: it's disappointing that the releases were so late that in many cases people didn't get them before the launch of the station. And unforgivable that Siri didn't even know the answer to "How can I listen to Beats 1" - that shows a lack of polish that is surprising.

2 years ago

What is the future of radio, and what is the largest channel launch in history?

PRO2 years ago

The future of radio - on a mobile device - isn't a linear, non-interactive stream. I have graphs showing why in this presentation. This, in a nutshell, is my disappointment.

The largest channel launch in history? It depends how you measure it. Total available audience? Beats 1 is nowhere near, say, BBC World Service in its availability - only on OSX/iOS isn't anywhere near FM/AM/SW. Total listeners? It's certainly nowhere near: if it had 50,000 concurrents it might be the largest radio station ever online, but it pales into insignificance to, for example, BBC Radio 2 which has millions listening at the same time off-air. Or even Pandora. Total brand impact? Not sure of that, either. The NRJ group, the Virgin Radio brand, the BBC, ESPN - all significantly larger.

But it's lovely you're still reading. After I corrected you on the DMCA, and you went deathly silent after I went into a bit of the tech detail, I thought we'd scared you away.

2 years ago

You didn't correct me on the DMCA, and it is relevant because Apple is broadcasting from a US jurisdiction. I just gave up because this is not a discussion platform, it's a place for you and your homely mates to trade homespun views.

I said the largest channel launch in history, and as evidence of your willingness to debate, you beg the question, not answer it. This is clearly the largest /launch/ - /launching/ to the largest audience of any radio station in history. How can you not acknowledge that? What other channel launches are even remotely close.

I suspect it will have the largest live and and on-demand (if that happens) audience of all stations soon enough - probably shockingly soon.

Your youtube presentation suggests the future of radio is something that involves a live-to-air / real-live segments with interactivity / replay / on-demand / time-shift. In other words - your analysis is the generic commentary on evolution in live broadcast that everyone has repeated for the last two decades. Brilliant.

The fact that you haven't detected the relevance of the world's digital media giant leading its long-anticipated streaming media product with live-to-air radio, nor noted the listener response, is the root concern. Instead you grumble about technical glitches, and disliking the DJs. All that you /say/ ( in your video) you want radio to be, is precisely what Beats1 is likely to become - not matter that you already ignore the interactive elements that already exist (you didn't listen enough, radio guru that you are, to note that one of the flagship elements is an interview and interactive playlist generated as-live /with a listener/).

As for your 'technical' comment, I was looking for something a bit more sophisticated than you just digging up a link to an HLS server. If you know so much about streaming media server set-up, and it's all so obvious, tell us why the stream went down and was otherwise spotty at times at all, and how they fixed it with the rollover server; tell us why it went down and where in the production sequence. That would be useful obviously - since we all want to know why and how Apple didn't get it spot on. But I won't bother digging further there since, I actually doubt you really do technology. (My real interest and genuine question here is what compression codes / streaming protocol / server architecture / network structure is used for the streaming service, since Spotify has innovated with proprietary stuff in all these and I doubt Apple is doing any less.)

The only reason I am commenting here, anyway, or noticed your original tweet, is because I found myself listening to live-to-air radio, and was looking for some fresh informed debate on it, technically and culturally, since I have assumed and taken for granted the thrust of your generic insight for a decade now (live, interactive components within a IP-based, on-demand framework).

You and your mates are clearly convinced that you are the oracles of the radio industry, but if this is the state-of-the-art of the debate, I find that immensely discouraging.

The fact is that, because of the paucity of insight coming out of whatever corner of the debate this is, others will do your work for you. I was a guest at a private media conference in New York last year, The Future of Storytelling, look it up, and some of the most respected web / visual / tv / film / print creators, curators, producers and buyers were there.

Almost no-one, literally no-one, was talking about audio presumably because the accepted view in the media industries is that audio / radio is basically either a legacy issue with a few billion people still on terrestrial radio until IP streams can reach them reliably or some version of interactive podcasting (which is a pejorative shorthand for what I think your view of the future is).

This is tragic of course. Audio fits into people's lives, and carries content, very differently to any other medium. But that view won't change thanks to blogs and blog posts and pontificating of the poor quality of yours. People just see a dying industry, with negative whingers many of whom have spent their careers in levy-back public sector broadcasting (which distorts or discounts most arguments about BBC audience figures, because it doesn't operate in the market in a conventional way, if at all), and have little to offer a world where media and media consumption is being vastly reinvented. Everyone will innovate in their own random way, because nothing coming out of this kind of debate (at least what you display) is any kind of contribution - if there's anything to know, people know it already.

If you article had indicated a way in which the interactivity might be improved, or what kind of downloadable segments should be made available, or what Apple might do otherwise with the colossal platform for streaming media of all sorts they have created, it would be worth hearing. But you wrote a long piece with no discernible technical detail, questionable understanding of how Apple or any online broadcaster needs to respond to weird DMCA requirements on online broadcast, no comment of other corporate inputs to the broadcast (what did you think of the adverts? how much of the playlist was commanded from above?), no serious thought about what the broadcast or channel means for the industry and why Iovine / Reznor / Lowe (who amount to a huge package of talent and power in the music industry) might be involved in what you dismiss so easily, no thinking around the relationship between Beats1 and the rest of the Apple Music offering, etc etc.

Most importantly, and though it's to be found elsewhere on this blog, the quality of comments from your lame henchmen / outriders makes me doubt it, what is needed is a roadmap for how your banal prescription about "a bit of live, a bit of on-demand, a bit of interaction, different platforms X new programming typologies (won't even get into that part of your comment, since you yourself say you aren't a programmer)" might be operationalised in specific new segments, using which business models.

This certainly was absent from your comment on Beats1, because in case you haven't noticed - wait, I am certain you either haven't, or your don't care / don't get it - Twitter is utterly burning up with praise for Beats1 with much coming from people unaffiliated with radio / podcasts; and, what's more, the artists featured are hugely delighted to be on such carefully selected playlists. Zane is definitely doing something of what Peel did.

You somehow fail to mention /that/ - i.e. the entire function of doing this, linking content to an audience, and what that means for business and society. Again, if you aren't commenting on that, what makes you a radio 'guru'?

I could go on, but now I am just sad and want to get back to studying and engaging with media with serious folks. I apologise for wading into this shallow pool, and I apologise if my comments were considered personal attacks rather than notes on what I see as a professional offering.

I will predict this, though: Apple Beats1 will be considered to have reinvented radio within a year, not least by having integrated the various time-shifting, interactive, features you point to you in your prognostication (because they are obvious, not because you discovered them), but mainly because it has brought millions of new listeners to what radio more or less is, a more or less linear, less rather than more interactive stream.

I'll check back in six months, to see if you have a more nuanced view of any of this then.

PRO2 years ago

I apologise if my comments were considered personal attacks

Your comments called me petulant, middle-aged, ignorant and incompetent. It's hard to understand how you might have considered those comments in any other way other than to be personal in nature. It's disappointing that you don't seek to have a sensible conversation, and resort to insult, rudeness and put-downs - while, incredibly, demanding a more nuanced view.

I genuinely hope that Beats1 has the effect you want it to have. A good first step would be publishing some audience figures. I hope they do so. However, I am disappointed that Apple botched the launch, and have singularly failed to innovate in this space. There is nothing new here, and many missed opportunities. That is the disappointing thing. Had Apple reinvented radio, I'd be the first to be shouting its praise from the rooftops.

PRO2 years ago

Sadly there are those who'll praise the Church of Apple regardless of it's faults.

2 years ago

Well, you are clearly thin skinned and happy to distort what people say, to avoid debate.

I said "you come across as petulant, technically ignorant, middle-aged and incompetent in relation to technology", which clearly refers to your tone not your persona, and only in relation to technology. Does that clear it up? I know nothing about you, and that's not relevant anyway.

And once you see (i.e. read) that that is a comment about your tone and content not your person, that is certainly not lowering the tone from this choice piece of hyperbole about Zane Lowe "Talking over the middle break, or badly talking over a song that ends, is really, really fucking annoying. There is a special place in hell for radio presenters who attempt to do any of these things." Right? You aren't exactly asking for polite responses.

Anyway, in your revised article - and note that I commented before you added all those edits carefully talking up Apple - you say that Apple has not 'innovated', and in your comment you say there is nothing new.

This is classic pontificator talk when Apple launches things, and it's not convincing. When Apple pushed GUI, it was actually a Xerox innovation (not new), the multitouch was just something they bought (not new), iPod was just an MP3 player with a click wheel, iPhone had nothing new no compared to Nokia N95, on and on.

I said what I meant: "Apple Beats1 will be considered to have reinvented radio" with the emphasis on considered. It works like all of these other things: they implement well enough, at scale, and iterate fast enough, to be considered in category after category as the people who truly innovated, even though that is almost never the case.

PRO2 years ago

This piece was talking about the current uninspiring product (notably, the launch experience). Not what they might evolve it into. And, once more, I share your optimism.

The insults and denigration of my entire career comes from someone so unsure of themselves that they can't bring themselves to post under their full name, I note.

2 years ago

Having updated iTunes I decided to give Beats1 a spin. First thing I heard was a hip-hop track, quite appealing to my ears, but with almost every other word muted for profanity. So asking to be treated like an adult in a manner that broadcast radio cannot was too much to ask.

Fortunately I was saved 30 seconds later. Windows announced that "iTunes has stopped working" and closed it, thus reminding me why I abandoned it as a music manager some time ago.

2 years ago

Hear, hear, James. Its so frustrating when such a normally innovative company such as Apple gets it this wrong. It's also offensive on a professional level. Do you think it was merely arrogance on Apple's part? Perhaps Zane Lowe is now realising that good radio isn't just about who's in front of the mic and that production and technical support are an integral part of what makes good radio sound like great radio.

2 years ago

James, I read this thread with increasing incredulity, with such a level of defensiveness you almost wonder if this individual Is an Apple employee responsible for the launch of Apple Radio! Although I'm so way out of their demographics I'm highly unlikely to become a regular listener to Beats 1, some of the other channels do look interesting, but as they are subscription only I'm afraid I won't be listening. In any case Spotify already fulfills my needs perfectly and works on all platforms perfectly. Add in Tune In and the Radioplayer and I have pretty much all I need at nil cost. Along with it's all or nothing subscription model ,Apples offering imho doesn't have any USP and that is it's biggest problem

PRO2 years ago

Thanks, John. The other channels are algorithmic music jukebox channels in the main. They're not 'presented', but with the benefit that they have a skip button, of course. In the YouTube video I linked to earlier, you'll see how Pandora - which does similar - is doing in comparison to live simulcast online stations.

2 years ago

Well I just tried to listen to this new phenomenon, but even after a couple of Google searches I could not figure out how to listen. Anyone got a URL they can share?

2 years ago

I do find it extraordinary that any new radio station would put up so many barriers to prevent people actually listening, especially at launch when there's so much free publicity. I was using a brand new (Apple) MacBook Air, OS freshly-updated, iTunes account logged in - and I couldn't listen to Beats1 at launch as the iTunes update was unavailable to me in the UK. (I'm also assuming I'm locked out of listening on my iPhone 4 as well...)

PRO2 years ago

Apple have finally put out a tv advert for Beats 1. I watched it on Comedy Central, where they had an audio clip of Zane Lowe and people listening across the world.

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