Apple’s Beats 1 radio station, which the company launched as part of its new Apple Music subscription service, just got a new competitor that sounds eerily familiar: Freebeats1 plays many of the same songs as Beats 1, but comes without any of the commentary from Beats 1 DJs like former BBC Radio 1 star Zane Lowe, any interviews or any promotional clips for Apple’s music service.
Freebeats1 debuted Wednesday as part of 6 Seconds, a free radio app for iOS and Android that was launched earlier this year by MP3.com founder and serial entrepreneur Michael Robertson. Freebeats1 simply monitors Apple’s radio station and then compiles a playlist of the same songs, explained Robertson. But don’t expect to hear the same music at the same time: “The songs are not in the same order as Beats 1 because there’s lots of talking on Beats,” he said, adding that Apple’s station also tends to repeat a lot of songs.
Apple is slated to release an Apple Music app for Android this fall, but currently doesn’t offer a way to listen to Beats 1 on Android devices or via a Web browser, instead pointing Windows and Mac OS users to its iTunes app. Robertson’s company on the other hand also streams its clone via Radiosearchengine.com, which like the 6 Seconds app also offers access to other online radio stations and genre-based streams. Altogether, his company now streams 100,000 stations, Robertson said.
Robertson has a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker in music industry circles. MP3.com was sued by the major music labels, as was Robertson’s subsequent venture, MP3Tunes.com. Still, Robertson didn’t seem concerned when asked whether he expects any legal pressure from Apple. It’s questionable whether lists of songs are copyrightable, he argued, adding that there are many other radio stations using the Beats moniker. “I don’t see any issue there,” he said.