13 04 15

Apple/Beats paying journalists to write copy for “thousands” of curated playlists ahead of relaunch

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Music Ally has learned that Apple is currently paying music journalists to write copy for thousands of playlists – all of which could form the backbone of Beats when it finally relaunches.

Professional music writers are being paid – handsomely, it must be said, by music press standards – to deliver succinct contextual copy around pre-created playlists. They are delivering around 50 words per playlist as the company looks to stockpile thousands ahead of the anticipated relaunch in June. The playlists cover a variety of areas – introduction to particular artists and genres, deep cuts by classic acts, playlists for sports workouts (across a multitude of genres) and so on.

Back in February, Apple advertised for an “editorial producer”, requesting the applicants have a solid background in music journalism. This particular post will be based in Apple’s London office and has yet to be filled – but Music Ally understands that the playlist curation programme is currently being driven out of the US.

There is no confirmed date for when any of this will go live, but we have been told the stockpiling has been happening for some time and that there are “thousands of different playlists” being created.

We approached Apple with this story but the company said it would not comment on rumour or speculation.

Curated “smart” playlists is nothing new for Beats. Before its $3bn acquisition last year, it was working with name music journalists and DJs to beef up its recommendations. What is most significant is that Apple is now working hand-in-hand with a wide range of outside journalistic experts, possibly an idea brought into Cupertino by the Beats team.

Apple poached Zane Lowe from Radio 1 in February to tap into his taste-making expertise and to lead a new emphasis on recommendation. So this development is part of a wider strategy to fine-tune discovery in a way that its Genius tool only hinted at and which iTunes Radio has only scratched the surface of.

The fact all the major labels have their own playlist services shows the importance the industry is placing on them as a way to both break new acts and reinvigorate catalogue. Apple will be entering the streaming market behind a number of established players like Spotify, Deezer and Rdio (as well as new entrants like Tidal) and so it will have to debut with multiple points of differentiation. It appears playlists will be a significant part of that so that, when the new Beats goes live, users will have plenty of options to guide them through 30m+ tracks.

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Eamonn Forde
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