Apple's Beats 1 to Feature Sponsors, Not Standard Ads

Company Pitching Its Star DJs in Meetings with Brands, Agencies

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Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe will host the flagship show on Apple's radio station.
Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe will host the flagship show on Apple's radio station.

Next week Apple will premiere its own global radio station Beats 1, which the company bills as "radio like you've never imagined." While a live 24/7 star-studded digital radio station may never have crossed your mind, the ad formats that Beats 1 will carry have likely hit your ears before.

Apple is adopting a sponsorship-only model in seeking advertisers for Beats 1, according to people briefed on Apple's plans.

Beats 1 will not carry the normal audio and video ads that run on Apple's Pandora-like iTunes Radio service, which Apple seems to now refer to as simply Radio. Instead, Beats 1 will feature what Apple execs are describing in meetings with potential advertisers as "audio mentions" that will be interspersed throughout the songs and segments that will air on Beats 1.

These audio mentions will be similar to the DJ- or host-spoken ads that you can hear on traditional AM/FM radio stations or podcasts like Gimlet Media's shows, the people said. It's unclear whether the audio mentions will be pre-recorded or performed live by Apple's DJs.

Apple is making its Beats 1 DJs a major selling point during meetings with advertisers and agencies.

Beats 1 will be anchored by three DJs stationed in Los Angeles, New York and London. Those DJs include former BBC Radio 1 host Zane Lowe, who will host Beats 1's flagship show; Hot 97 morning-show host Ebro Darden; and Julie Adenuga, who hosted an afternoon show on London indie radio station Rinse FM. Beats 1 will also carry shows hosted by celebrities like Elton John and Pharrell Williams.

Apple has been looking to sign deals with a limited number of global brands, though it's unclear whether any deals have been secured and with which brands. Since announcing Beats 1 on June 8, the company has been meeting with advertisers and agencies to brief them on Beats 1, including during this week's big Adland gathering in France for the Cannes Lions festival.

The radio station will be available through Apple Music, the company's all-in-one music app that will roll out on June 30. In addition to Beats 1, Apple Music will include the free, ad-supported, Pandora-rivaling streaming Radio service; a subscription-based, ad-free, Spotify-rivaling on-demand streaming music service based on Beats Music, which Apple acquired last year; and a music-centric social network called Connect, which will give artists their own Facebook-like profiles to upload photos, videos and songs that fans can check out.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent on Thursday.

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