Apple is revamping its streaming radio service. Starting today, its flagship radio station Beats 1 will be rebranded to Apple Music 1 — a change that more closely associates the station with Apple’s subscription-based streaming music service, Apple Music. In addition, the company is launching two more radio stations: Apple Music Hits, featuring top songs from the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, and Apple Music Country, focused on country music.
The expansion aims to help differentiate Apple Music from current rivals, like Spotify and Pandora, both known for their personalization efforts with algorithmic-driven playlists tailored to user interests. While Apple Music offers its own, smaller selection of personalized playlists, it also wants to better establish itself in the role of tastemaker and a tool to connect fans with artists. That’s where the streaming radio stations come in.
On Apple Music 1 (previously Beats 1), the company offers artists interviews, global exclusives and premieres, and other breaking music news. The station is led by presenters Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, Brooke Reese, Dotty, Hanuman Welch, Matt Wilkinson, Nadeska, Rebecca Judd, and Travis Mills, from studios in L.A., New York, Nashville, and London. Its lineup of shows includes those from big names in music, like Action Bronson, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Joe Kay, Lil Wayne, Frank Ocean, Vince Staples, and The Weeknd. New shows from Aitch, Kerwin Frost, HAIM, Lady Gaga, Nile Rodgers, Travis Scott, Young M.A, and others are also available.
More broadly, the idea behind streaming radio is to cater to people who, sometimes, just want to turn on music without having to think about what they want to hear or dig around for a favorite playlist. That was the original promise of terrestrial radio, and Apple believes the formula can still work on modern-day streaming services, as well.
Meanwhile, the addition of the newer stations began to paint a picture of a radio service that caters to specific tastes and interests. The new naming format of “Apple Music X” also leaves room for Apple to continue to expand its radio lineup over time to include more genres and thematic stations.
Apple says the new “Hits” station will be led by on-air hosts ayde Donovan, Estelle, Lowkey, Jenn Marino, Sabi, Nicole Sky and Natalie Sky, George Stroumboulopoulos (“House of Strombo”), along with special shows from Ari Melber and others. Exclusive shows from artists include those from Backstreet Boys, Ciara, Mark Hoppus, Huey Lewis, Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dogg, Meghan Trainor, Shania Twain, and more.
The country station will have hosts Kelleigh Bannen, Ty Bentli, Bree, Alecia Davis, Ward Guenther, Nada, and Tiera, plus weekly shows from Ashley Eicher and Kelly McCartney. Fans can also enjoy new exclusive shows from artists like Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, BRELAND, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Morgan Evans, Florida Georgia Line, Pat Green, Willie Jones, Chrissy Metz, Midland, Rissi Palmer, The Shires, Carrie Underwood, and Morgan Wallen, alongside exclusive shows from legendary producers and songwriters like Dave Cobb, Jesse Frasure, and Luke Laird, and journalist Hunter Kelly.
Though Apple Music Radio is a product that helps Apple’s subscription service stand out, it’s not clear to what extent it’s seen by consumers as a huge selling point that has them choosing Apple Music over a competing service, like Spotify. Instead, Apple Music is likely opted for by those who prefer Apple’s design aesthetic, the convenience of a native app that works well with Siri, and those who fully participate in the Apple ecosystem across their devices.
With the expansions and rebranding, music listeners will be able to ask Siri to play “Apple Music 1,” “Apple Music Hits,” or “Apple Music Country,” — a selection that will be easy to remember as it grows over time, thanks to the simplified naming format.
Apple Music Radio is supported across iPhone, iPad, iPod, CarPlay, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod, and on the web at music.apple.com, the company says.
“For the past five years, if ever there was a meaningful moment in music culture, Beats 1 was there bringing human curation to the forefront and drawing in listeners with exclusive shows from some of the most innovative, respected, and beloved people in music,” said Oliver Schusser, vice president of Apple Music, Beats, and International Content, in a statement. “Now, Apple Music radio provides an unparalleled global platform for artists across all genres to talk about, create, and share music with their fans, and this is just the beginning. We will continue to invest in live radio and create opportunities for listeners around the world to connect with the music they love.”