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‘Fans Want Stories That Playlists Can’t Tell,’ Zane Lowe Of Apple Music’s Beats 1 Tells SXSW

Zane_lowe_press“There are no stories to be told on a playlist alone,” Zane Lowe of Apple Music’s Beats 1 told an audience at SXSW. “Artists want their music to inspire and catch fire and to mean something.”

It’s a refrain that we’re hearing more and more.  A static playlist, whether hand curated or algorithm based, can introduce you to a song, but not to an artist; and it is that later connection that build a career. 

“Artists no longer need a hit record to thrive,” Lowe continued, “the emphasis is on great ideas that build alongside great music. We don’t just love the music. We love the artist.”

“The problem for me, the music fan,” said Lowe, “is that there’s not a lot of conversation about music.”

image from pbs.twimg.comLowe used Chance The Rapper as a truly innovative artists whose inspirational story – young, 100% indie, giving his music away for free, then just on streaming services – is as important to his legions of fans as his music is.

What is the answer?  Lowe would argue Beats 1: “We believe that, though the fan has the choice to listen on demand, on their own time, we still [believe that collective listening is important]… We wanted to get in the room with the artists, so why not just broadcast from the room?”

But there will be other answers, too. Beyond Beats 1, what if playlisters could drop in intros and commentary? What if artist – or fans – could annotate tracks – either with audio or in text?

“The future of music is unwritten,” concluded Lowe, “but it’s fucking exciting right?”