What it is: Beats 1 host Zane Lowe says streaming music is the future.
At one time, music stores filled the retail store landscape. If you wanted to buy music, you had to buy a CD and play it in a CD player. When Napster arrived, it allowed people to illegally share MP3 files of individual songs, which helped decimate the music industry. Then Apple came along and legitimized music downloads with iTunes and the iPod.
Yet in a short time, the iPod has become obsolete along with iTunes. Digital downloads is still possible, but a far more popular way to enjoy music is streaming. Instead of clogging your iPhone or iPad with MP3 files, you can just listen to music over the Internet. Streaming music depends on reliable WiFi connections, but as WiFi becomes readily available in more places, streaming music becomes a viable alternative to digital downloads.
As streaming music has grown, digital downloads as shrunk. This sudden shift caught Apple by surprise so they spent $3 billion dollars acquiring Beats Music, which had already established a streaming music service along with establishing and maintaining ties to the music industry. When Apple rebranded Beats Music as Apple Music, they also created a live streaming radio station dubbed Beats 1. The goal of Beats 1 is to provide a streaming music subscription service with curated musical content. If people enjoy the radio station, they can pay a subscription fee. If they enjoy a particular song, they might be tempted to buy it through iTunes.
Apple Music thus acts like a way to introduce people to different music and get them to buy a digital download. Of course, Beats 1 only covers a limited range of music, which opens the door for additional Beats stations in the future. It’s no surprise that Apple’s first radio station is named Beats 1. That means Beats 2 and Beats 3 won’t be far away when you consider these other stations could highlight other music genres. Soon you’ll be able to listen to music stations in Apple Music that caters to your particular musical tastes.
Apple Music may not be the runaway success people expect but it’s going to grow in the long run. Zane Lowe is just stating the obvious when he says streaming music is the future and Beats radio stations are just one way to offer human curated content for listeners to enjoy. Rather than rely on computer algorithms to pick songs and artists, humans can more readily tap into current trends and offer explanations and descriptions of the artists and story behind individual songs.
Streaming music is the future of music and Apple Music strives to become the leader. Despite Apple being caught flat-footed over streaming music, Apple Music must claw its way to the top against competitors like Spotify or Pandora. The one advantage of Apple Music is that they can afford to pay for human curated content, but whether that’s an advantage or not remains to be seen. The only certainty is that Apple Music is the future of music and iTunes digital downloads is not.