Apple to revive the radio star with Beats 1

Doing something no one expected, Apple is launching a 24/7 worldwide radio station.

Zane Lowe, Beats 1 DJ
Image: Apple

Earlier this month, Apple launched a new subscription music service based on technology it acquired in its $3 billion Beats acquisition. The service, called Apple Music, is a complete revamping of Apple's music offerings. Among other things, it replaces iTunes Radio, which launched last year and has been pretty terrible.

Subscribers paying $10 per month will get access to nearly every song in the iTunes Music library for unlimited streaming. iTunes Radio has been replaced with newly curated Pandora-esque "radio" stations that, Apple says, have been "totally revamped."

Most of these things were expected or heavily rumored beforehand. However, one announcement is a surprise: Apple is launching a 24/7 worldwide radio station called Beats 1, helmed by star DJs that the company has poached from major radio stations.

Zane Lowe was one of the top DJs on BBC Radio One, a popular radio station in the UK (and something that appears to provide a lot of inspiration for Beats 1, right down to the name). Ebro Darden was plucked from HOT 97 in New York, and relative newcomer Julie Adenuga was picked up from former pirate-radio station Rinse FM and will broadcast from London.

All of the details have not been revealed yet, but Apple is promising big things from its new station.

Beats 1 is a truly global listening experience. It broadcasts 24/7 to over 100 countries from our studios in Los Angeles, New York, and London. No matter where you are or when you tune in, you'll hear the same great programming as every other listener. Enjoy exclusive interviews, guest hosts, and the best of what's going on in the world of music.

Lowe is already promoting his show, revealing on Twitter that his first interview on Beats 1 will be Eminem. He also tweeted a picture of a gigantic billboard in New York's Times Square advertising the station.

Beats 1 will be available for free, without a subscription, to anyone with an iOS device, a Mac, or an Android device with the new Apple Music app installed. That means hundreds of millions of potential listeners.

Much has been made of Apple's royalty payment scheme recently, and we don't quite know how it will work for Beats 1. There are still a lot of unknowns.

Will there be advertising, or will it be more like BBC Radio One and run ad-free (funded by a license fee-esque chunk of every iPhone sold)? Will it be live 24/7 and hosted by DJs, or will there be pre-recorded and repeated content? Just what will they play?

I don't know the answers to those questions, but with Lowe, Darden, and Adenuga at the helm and Dr. Dre, Trent Reznor, and Jimmy Iovine behind the scenes, I'm expecting great things -- especially since the song Apple is using to promote the station in television ads is an awesome new track from Pharrell, which will be exclusive to Apple Music (at least at launch).

Beats 1 launches Tuesday, June 30, 2015, alongside the subscription-based Apple Music service.

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Do you think Beats 1 will become your preferred radio station? What do you think about Apple getting into the content business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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