When Apple first revealed Apple Music, one of the aspects I was most excited about was the always-on Beats 1 streaming station. I wrote in detail how it was the feature that could help Apple Music stand out from the competition. Throughout the past year and a half, however, it feels as if Apple has seriously neglected Beats 1, seemingly giving it no attention since the initial unveil.
With Apple not releasing direct listenership data for Beats 1, you have to wonder what is being said about the initiative behind the closed doors of Apple…
Apple Music was one of the central points of iOS 10 and the changes that came with it. The app got a major design overhaul, boasting improved discovery and playlist features, but demoting original Apple Music features like Connect and even Beats 1. The iOS 10 Music app makes Beats 1 harder to access and doesn’t actively promote it.
Despite this, the actual content of Beats 1 is still alive and kicking, and there’s still an insane amount of musical talent and knowledge behind the service. Zane Lowe is still heading up the initiative, while celebrities like Elton John, Pharrell, and Drake are all trying their respective hand at hosting shows. Additionally, you still have Ebro Darden hosting out of New York and Julie Adenuga hosting out of London.
This makes me wonder, is Apple planning something big for Beats 1 in the future? How could it possibly justify the money it’s pouring into Beats 1 without promoting it at every possible opportunity?
Personally, I have found myself listening to Beats 1 less and less as time has progressed since its initial launch. I remember the day it first went live, Zane Lowe’s hot mic and all, and everyone on Twitter being tuned into the debut. Since then, I’ve seen fewer and fewer people talk of Beats 1, both on social networks like Twitter and especially in real life.
The reason for the lack of interest from non-tech savvy people has to be primarily due to the fact that Apple has never really marketed Beats 1 to the public. Despite having A-list interviews with artists like Drake, Ed Sheeran, Eminem, and others, Apple has largely focused its Apple Music marketing on things like offline listening, the three-month free trial, and other discoverability features offered. While there was that massive Times Square ad prior to Beats 1’s launch, it’s been quiet since then.
One of my biggest reasons for not listening to Beats 1 is that I simply either forget that it’s there or I’m unaware of what’s going to be on that day. There’s one big solution to this: push notifications. This is something that I and many others have been requesting since the launch of Beats 1. To me, it seems absurd that there’s no way to be notified when artist you like is either playing on Beats 1 or will be interviewed.
For instance, if Coldplay is going to appear on Beats 1, I should be able to receive a push notification informing me of the appearance, as well as allowing me to quickly jump to the Beats 1 area of the Music app. Imagine the growth Beats 1’s listenership would see if a notification was sent out that said, “Interview with Drake about to begin, tune into Beats 1 now.” It’s something that I can’t for life of me believe that Apple hasn’t added in any of the updates to Apple Music since it’s original launch.
With listenership likely slowing, you also have to wonder what the future holds for Beats 1. While it has been largely quiet the Beats 1 front in terms of rumors, there have been a few whispers as to potential new features coming to the service.
Last year, it was reported that Apple had received trademarks for additional Beats channels (i.e. Beats 2, Beats, 3, Beats 4, etc). The initial though with this was that Apple would use the additional channels to either be genre-specific or include content like news and sports. As of now, nearly a year later, nothing has come of those rumors.
I’d go as far as to say Apple’s lack of attention towards Beats 1 is hurting its chances at continuing to secure big-name interviews and song premiers. Artists always want to go where the most listeners are, and while Beats 1 is in the pocket of every iPhone user, Apple doesn’t do enough to promote it to take advantage of its reach. Thus, artists are likely to premier songs on other platforms.
What can Apple do to push Beats 1 to the next level? Essentially, the service needs an Apple Music-like overhaul. The talent certainly there with Zane Lowe, but more needs to be done to take advantage of that asset. The service needs to be marketed much better, for one. This includes better placement in the Music app, as well as more prominent TV and print advertising.
The aforementioned push notifications would also greatly help Apple take advantage of its reach for Beats 1, as well, although the notifications would likely need to be opt-in.
One thing that is especially weird to me is how this year’s Apple Music festival was not plastered all over Beats 1. That would have been a great way for Apple to incentivize for people to listen to the service, but instead, the festival was streamed separately. Additionally, Eddy Cue himself interviewed Bruce Springsteen recently, but instead of streaming on Beats 1, the interview was streamed on Facebook.
The morale of the story here is that Apple clearly doesn’t have all its eggs in one basket. There’s a clear fragmentation in how Apple is directing its attention. So much so that Apple Music feels incredibly neglected just a year and a few months after it original launch.
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