First Click: What does it mean when the whole world dances to 1 radio beat?

July 1st, 2015


Beats 1 Radio went live in over 100 countries simultaneously yesterday. While Apple hasn’t reported an exact number of listeners yet, I’m guessing a sizable fraction of the world at least sampled the free radio station from the hundreds of millions of iPhones currently in use. That’s kind of amazing but what does it mean to be “worldwide and live?”

Is it just another case of globalization blandness, where the mom-and-pop shops we loved for their intimacy and uniqueness are driven out to make room for Starbucks and McDonalds? Or is it the sugary sentiment of Fievel and Tanya Mousekewitz looking up at the same night sky from their respective corners of the world, singing: "And even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star."

Beats 1 is Hands Across America stretched across the internet in adjoined bits of digital audio. It’s We are the World from an ever-changing lineup of artists. It’s a 24/7 Happy video, except people are experiencing a range of censored emotions generated by three DJs in London, New York, and LA — all speaking English.

Jimmy Iovine discussed the impact he hopes Apple Music and Beats 1 Radio will have on culture with Jim Dalrymple on Monday. "If it moves culture and helps move music forward. I think it’s going to be good for music," said Iovine. "I had money, now I have more money. It can’t be about the money. Moving popular culture is so much more important than money—that’s what's at stake here."

But what’s to become of culture when we’re all listening to the same music at exactly the same time? And what’s the future of music when global culture is homogenous?

Five stories to start your day

  1. Listen to everything Zane Lowe said during the first hour of Beats 1

    IS THERE AN ARTIST OUT THERE THAT MORE PERFECTLY EMBODIES THE FREEWHEELING NATURE OF CREATIVITY THAN BECK? This question, followed by an endless list of cities and countries, and the sound of Zane Lowe's voice yelling the words ALWAYS ON during the quiet parts of songs, is really everything you need to know about the first hour of Apple's new Beats 1 radio station.

  2. Here's a very unofficial way to listen to Beats 1 on Android devices

    Apple's worldwide radio station Beats 1 launched yesterday alongside the company's new streaming service, but it's currently only available for iOS, OS X, and Windows users — the Apple Music app won't arrive on Android until this fall. However, there is a workaround.

  3. Honda took a crazy electric CR-Z to Pikes Peak — and won

    The normal CR-Z, a small hybrid coupe, is an unassuming car by almost any definition. (It's fallen a little flat in that regard, considering it's a spiritual successor to both the CR-X and the groundbreaking first-generation Insight.) But then, out of nowhere, Honda goes and swaps out the drivetrain for a high-strung all-electric situation with all-wheel drive and steering. Now you're talking.

  4. Sony launches crowdfunding platform for its own new products

    Sony has launched a new crowdfunding platform designed to find and finance projects developed by Sony employees. The platform, called First Flight, is part of an effort by the Japanese company to promote new business ideas as it tries to drive itself back to profitability.

  5. Mark Zuckerberg says we'll be able to send emotions to each other soon

    Mark Zuckerberg believes that one day we'll be able to directly share emotions, thoughts, and sensory feedback with each other, just as we currently share text, photos, and videos through social networks. "You'll be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too," the Facebook CEO said, his comments coming as part of a lengthy question-and-answer session hosted on the wall of his own Facebook profile.