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The direction of Apple since the passing of its beloved founder Steve Jobs has not been without public disapproval. Around the time when his health took a turn for the worse, Jobs resigned as the company’s CEO and conferred its responsibilities to then-head of worldwide sales and operations, Tim Cook. A compulsory download of U2’s album Songs of Innocence, lower-tier c-series iPhones and iCloud scandals are just a few of Apple’s failed experiments since the tech visionary leader’s succession and death. These slip-ups have subsequently caused a loss of confidence from its customers, as well as a deterioration in rapport with partners like Google. Although the company has maintained strong financial standings, they needed the assets to reinforce its presumed market value. With this in consideration, each endeavour Apple embarked on possessed strong inherent risks, even with its immensely loyal following. This is the reason it was particularly interesting when they first announced its foray into music streaming services, leading many wondered two main questions — why and how.
The market was already dominated by Swedish provider Spotify, and was slowly becoming saturated with ready competitors, including JAY Z’s artist-backed TIDAL. However, Apple was committed, strategically plotting its steps into the marketplace. Needing something special to differentiate themselves from Spotify, Apple had something big in mind. Last year, the Cupertino tech giant made a puzzling $2.6 billion USD acquisition of Beats Electronics. Many correctly assumed the motivation behind the purchase was to recruit its highly adept talent, namely Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, who both possess an encyclopedic breadth of knowledge regarding music and its industry. With their expertise, the company was ready to begin the project which would help its service eclipse other competitors — Beats 1 radio.
Apple has been slowly culling talent across the board for its radio, recruiting a unique blend of influencers to host the 24-hour service. The paramount task of helming Beats 1 will be three accomplished radio hosts, all poached from other respected stations. These individuals include BBC’s Zane Lowe, Hot 97’s Ebro Darden and RinseFM’s Julie Adenuga, all possessing expansive preferences in genres of music. In addition to these three mainstays, a group of meticulously selected guests will also take part in hosting, which include rock legend Elton John, global hip-hop star Drake, social media personality Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky, Vampire Weeknd’s Ezrea Koenig, the enigmatic Jaden Smith, musician collective Soulection and more.
With a group as eclectic as Beats 1, this article will aim to profile some of these hosts, giving readers a better understanding of Apple’s methodical selection. While the three regular hosts — Lowe, Darden and Adenuga — are obvious choices, some of the guests may offer an interesting perspective into the strategic steps taken by Apple.
DRAKE & OLIVER EL-KHATIB
With respect to nationalism and reciprocated love, international recognition, along with obvious musical talent and chart topping dominance, Drake is unmatched amongst his Beats 1 contemporaries. Representing their OVO Sound label, co-founders Drake and Oliver El-Khatib split a two-hour slot, handpicking a collection of exclusive remixes, favorites and even tracks by the artist himself. As always, the two strive to showcase local talent from their home of Toronto, sharing interesting choices in the duo’s respective mixes. Their debut show included a slew of unreleased tracks and undiscovered talent, with a few popular tracks interlaced, giving fans some insight into each individual’s unique musical inspirations.
Although only 17-years-old, Jaden Smith has already amassed a large fanbase with his unique personality, possessing arguably one of the strongest influences amongst the list of Beats 1 tastemakers with 1.9 million followers on Instagram and 5.7 million followers on Twitter. Son of actor Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden is often portrayed as an eccentric and enigmatic character by many entertainment and gossip outlets alike, helping him gather much attention, which can be attributed to either irony or genuine interest. His station is called “MSFTS Frequency,” and has already broke industry shaking news regarding a potential collaboration between his father and Drake.
JOSH “THE FAT JEW” OSTROVSKY
Its title, “Money, Pizza, Respect,” should be indicative of the kind of radio show that social media personality Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky would host. Prior to his Instagram and Twitter fame, Ostrovsky was a member of underground experimental rap group Team Facelift, gaining recognition for their genre-warping tunes. The group eventually disbanded in 2010, which lead him to channel his outlandish antics onto social media platforms. He now has a massive cult-like following, with 5.2 million followers on Instagram and 246k on Twitter, opening up doors for his other entrepreneurial endeavours including his own line of award-winning rosé wine. Ostrovsky will look to translate his unique and quirky personality, along with his eclectic music tastes and loyal following, onto his Beats 1 program.
Soulection is a Los Angeles-based collective of producers and DJs, who hosts their own show every Saturday from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. EST. Co-founded by Joe Kay, the Soulection roster includes globally renowned artists such as Sango, Esta, Mr. Carmack and Sam Gellaitry. The wide range of artists under its banner help offer a comprehensive look into electronic music and gives listeners a unique and educated perspective into the genre. In an interview with Fader, Kay explains “the radio show is the basis of Soulection, so to have the ability to broadcast to a global audience is a great milestone for us. We plan to leverage this worldwide platform to bring on bigger guests who’ve inspired us over the years and that we respect.”