Zane Lowe: ‘The spirit of Beats 1 is that of a pirate station’

Former Radio 1 DJ also insists guest star presenters are not in it for the money

Zane Lowe claims Apple’s Beats 1 is similar to a pirate radio station.

The music service, which was launched earlier this summer, has also allowed the former Radio 1 DJ to have a free rein, he insists.

He told The Guardian: “We obviously have this huge support and the resources to make it work, but the spirit is that of a pirate station.

“There’s a scrappiness to Beats 1 at the moment – sometimes things don’t work and sometimes they do, but there’s no consistency. You go in that studio and you sort of feel like, if you tripped over the wrong wire, you could bring the whole thing down.”


The DJ also explained why the station has become so guest heavy with a roll call of star presenters including Dr Dre, Drake, Elton John, Pharrell Williams, Jaden Smith, Q-Tip, Josh Homme, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and St Vincent.

“We asked: ‘What’s the one thing that can truly be improved on radio at the moment?’ and that was the relationship the artist has with the promotional experience,” he added.

“So we handed the reins over to the artists and told them they can build it however they want, play whatever they want, talk to whoever they want. If you don’t want to play your own music, then don’t, we don’t mind. Make it an extension of who you are as a creative person.”

He also denied that artists were signing up to present for financial reasons. “Does it sound like they’re doing it for the money? Look, I’m sure some of them are doing it for financial reasons as well as love,” he said. “But it’s not something I get embroiled in. Let’s be honest, Pharrell’s made some money in his life so I’m not sure a cheque from Beats 1 is going to make a difference.”

The online global station was launched on June 30, with Lowe taking to the airwaves by playing the song ‘City’ by Manchester band Spring King.