Zane Lowe’s mystery move to Apple: Is it all about Beats?

Picture shows ZANE LOWE

So after 12 years of manning the airwaves during the Radio 1 evening show, we hear that Zane Lowe is moving on to take on an undisclosed role at Apple. The legendary radio DJ has been responsible for shaping the direction of UK music scene for over a decade, breaking a countless number of artists onto the scene along the way. This will be a huge loss for Radio 1 and his fans, though we can be rest assured that his shoes are being suitably filled by an equally capable music maestro – the super talented Annie Mac who will be taking over the controls in March.

But what is Radio 1’s loss, no doubt is Apple’s exponential gain.

At the time of going to print with this article we were still in the dark as to exactly what Zane’s role will entail and speculating as to whether he’d be pushed towards iTunes or Beats. However, there is one thing certain, the acquisition is an extremely wise move by Apple.

Why? Well we know that music sales are slowing down (single sales down 15.3% and album sales down 7.8% in 2014), whilst streaming is on the steady increase [up 65.1% last year]. So it makes perfect sense for Apple to make a strategic move towards enhancing and expanding its streaming services. And it’s equally as clever do that by bringing a globally renowned DJ who is a household name with a sizable following and held in great esteem.

How better to capture the hearts, minds and ears of the nations?

However, with Spotify now boasting 60 million active users and 15 million paying subscribers customers, plus all the other big streaming players on the market such as Soundcloud, Deezer (recently acquiring Muve),  Rdio, Google Play, Mixcloud where does that leave Apple’s Beats and iTunes Radio within the mix?

It’s certainly a competitive market and one that is continuing to grow. We’re seeing buy outs and services going public, worth billions. Even Google decided not to buy up Spotify for the $10million price tag.

We know that Apple completed the buy-out of Beats last year, but what it has in store for the music platform is still up in the air. A multitude of reviews around services and points of differentiation across the various services have been written (http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/126892-which-is-the-best-music-streaming-service-in-the-uk-spotify-vs-rdio-vs-deezer-and-more). With sales of iTunes music down it’s looking more than likely that Apple will merge it with Beats to roll out a new improved streaming product.

But there’s more going on than that. Trent Reznor – Beats’ Chief Creative Officer and former front man of Nine Inch Nails has alluded to exciting things on the horizon for Beats in the world of music delivery. And they’ve got Zane. And we know that it’s likely that iPhones will soon be preloaded with the Beats app. Given that Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2013, its starting to look obvious why they chose not to buy Spotify and instead compete directly.

Whatever’s on the cards, we know it’s going to be big.

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