Apple is beefing up its linear Apple Music radio stations today with the launch of two new stations and a rebranding of the popular Beats 1 station. Apple Music Country and Apple Music Hits will be available today, and Beats 1 is now known as Apple Music 1. Apple is positioning the move as further asserting itself as the main tastemaker and music curator, seemingly in direct competition with radio companies and other streaming services, like Pandora and Spotify, for that title.
As expected, Apple Music Country will focus on country music. It’ll have multiple on-air hosts as well as exclusive shows from artists like Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Jimmie Allen. Apple Music Hits will, of course, focus on mainstream top music. On-air hosts include Estelle and Nicole Sky, while exclusive artist-oriented shows will come from Backstreet Boys, Ciara, Shania Twain, and Snoop Dogg, among others. Along with the Beats 1 rebrand, Apple is releasing new shows on the channel with Lady Gaga, J Balvin, Travis Scott, and Haim.
Listeners can access the stations wherever they typically listen to Apple Music, although the company is also launching new Siri commands, like play “Apple Music 1,” “Apple Music Hits,” or “Apple Music Country,” which will switch those stations on automatically.
The new Apple Music radio stations also come just months after Apple launched a beta version of the music service on the web. It includes the same interface as Apple’s standalone Music app, which ships with macOS Catalina. Apple also converted some of Apple Music 1 host Zane Lowe’s interviews into podcasts, which allows listeners to tune into the show outside of its live airing. It seems possible Apple could pull this off with other shows, of which it now has many. That would not only set it up to have a robust live radio station offering but also a solid podcasting lineup.
Apple is also looking to build “the next generation” of its media apps for Windows.