Apple a master at dribbling out music users stats at just the right moment, like during a product launch, investor call or just as the media seems ready to crown Spotify the winner of the streaming wars. Buts it has never even hinted at how many people actually listen to its much touted Beats 1 live DJ powered streaming radio station.
Last year, Apple Music head of content Larry Jackson declared that, “Beats 1 is the biggest radio station in the world.” But is it? Beats 1 streams in “more than 100 countries,” Lowe is fond of saying. But that too is not a listener stat.
During an extensive LA Times interview, Beats 1 head DJ and Apple Music poster boy Zane Lowe once again dodged the question when asked how many people listen to his online stream.
"be the thing that moves the needle”
Instead, Lowe sidestep by recounting the advice that veteran music industry and Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine gave him when Beats 1 launched. "Jimmy said to me at the beginning: be the thing that moves the needle.” For Lowe, that's meant offering a friendly real-time outlet for artists and encouraging fans to buy their music. “This directly affects my business. By that very nature, we are in business together.”
Perhaps without knowing it, Lowe also offered a succinct explanation of why Beats 1 does not appear to have boatloads of listeners: "Right now people are making playlists, adding songs to the service," said Lowe. "You're not waiting for someone to make a decision for you. You distribute music yourself."
Does Beats 1 Have A Future?
Despite the lack of proof that Beats 1's live DJ's are a hit, there are signs that Spotify and YouTube are seriously considering launching competitive live streams.
But in an era where micro-curators and self-curation rule, is there still room for mass market online radio? If the demise of mass market television, magazines and other media are any indication, it's no wonder that Zane Lowe and Apple are promoting pop culture instead of user counts.