Zane Lowe: ‘Beats 1 is like a baby, it makes a lot of noise and shits everywhere’

Former Radio 1 DJ also claims the success of Apple's global station is measured by 'noise' not ratings

Zane Lowe has compared Apple’s Beats 1 radio station to a baby, after three months of the station being on air.

The presenter and DJ also said he is unsure where the global network’s future lies and whether the Apple Music streaming service actually needs it.

Lowe spoke earlier today at the Radio Festival at the British Library in London (September 29), where he was in conversation with Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper. Lowe told an audience: “I’m not sure that Apple Music does need Beats 1. We’re still working this out, time will tell. We’ve been going three months. I don’t have the answers.

“We’ve been trying to make it up as we go along and work it out. I hope that there is a place for it. I feel right now that there is. It’s absolutely working right now, but this isn’t progress, this is a process. Over time we will find exactly why.”

He added: “We’ll get our structure, we’ll grow up but we’re three months old. Babies make a lot of noise, they look at the world all wide-eyed and shit everywhere and that’s kind of like what Beats 1 is. It’s very, very new. There’s no rules, man.”

Lowe also said that Beats 1 is not reliant on ratings, unlike traditional radio stations such as his old employers Radio 1. He presented the first show on June 30 by playing the song ‘City’ by new Manchester band Spring King.

He said: “We are everything but traditional. I want to get as far away from tradition as possible. I measure success now by noise. When I said to Apple, ‘What is success to you because I come from a ratings system which goes up or down?’ they said, ‘Noise. You go out and make as much noise as you can’, and that’s what we’re doing. We are loud as fuck right now.”

Lowe also explained that another reason the station works is because 70 per cent of the schedule is made up of star presenters including Dr Dre, Pharrell, St Vincent and Haim, who are encouraged to treat their slots like recording an album.


“When Mark Ronson wakes up in the morning he dresses like Mark Ronson,” he explained. “When he goes into the studio he decides who he is going to work with and produce with and he does the artwork in a certain way and he designs the set, every single detail, so why can’t radio be that? Why can’t broadcasting be an extension of their creative self just like everything else?. Here’s the real estate, it’s yours, control it. If I’ve got a mixtape to play, I’ll play it twice. Bam. You ask me how I know it works, that’s how I know it works.”

The former Radio 1 DJ also admitted that he is sad that his former station has been criticised in the run up to the renewal of its royal charter, with the distinctiveness of the station being questioned in the government’s green paper on the future of the corporation.

He added: “It pains me to see the BBC under fire like that. Everyone has a right to ask questions and challenge any company or establishment to do its best. The BBC’s place in British culture in media, music and entertainment and news is second to none and I believe in the BBC.”