While there’d been vague talk about an Apple music channel for years, it was still a surprise when Apple Music TV suddenly appeared at 9 a.m. ET on Monday morning. Being an Apple product, of course it’s launching with a splash, starting off with videos of Apple Music’s all-time top 100 songs and following later in the week with a full day of Bruce Springsteen programming on Thursday, with videos and an hour-long interview by Zane Lowe culminating with a virtual event with 1,000 fans when the album drops. But despite the big Bruce look, make no mistake: Apple Music TV is about hits, as Rachel Newman, the company’s Global head of editorial and content, told Variety on Monday morning, just 90 minutes after the new channel launched.
Apple Music TV launched with the all-time Apple Music top 100, but what will the channel look like on a normal day?
The basis of it is really contemporary hits, so a perfect hour of music programming would be Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, Tate McRae, Zayne, J Balvin, Pink Sweats, Blackpink, Victoria Monet, Big Sean. It’s really contemporary, well-known hits, so if we have a sample representation of artists, it would be Drake, Dua Lipa, Cardi, B, BTS, Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish. Generally it’s very intentionally music videos interspersed with short-form video interstitial content, along with the odd long-form piece when it’s around special events, like the all-day Bruce takeover.
Yes, how does that fit in with the regular programming?
Occasionally there will be special events. This is to celebrate the release of the documentary [which is on Apple TV Plus] and album release, so there will be some retrospective concert footage with music videos and Zane’s 60-minute sit-down interview with Bruce. That all leads into a fan-only event broadcast that will be broadcast on Apple Music as well as the music video channel — at [11 p.m. ET], just ahead of the album being launched, there’s a live event for a thousand superfans who are part of a closed-off virtual environment where they can communicate with Bruce and ask questions; Zane Lowe presents this and they talk about the album and play back it back. We’re with the artist as the album is released, so that’s quite special.
But predominantly, the platform outside of event programming like that is music and contemporary hits.
The big Bruce look is a bit surprising because it seems like he’s a bit outside the station’s usual purview — was it because the album’s release provided a good launch-week event?
We’ve been working on the TV channel in the background for some time, but this was just a good week to line up a few things, we’ve got video premieres from Joji and Saint Jhn [taking place on Friday] as well. But even if we’d launched previously we’d still use this platform and environment to eventize some of the more important things to us, and the fact that we have the Apple TV Plus team with the Springsteen film, and obviously he’s a very important artist for us as well. In much the same way we will [go big] for things like Verzus, this is a really great way to extend the broadcast to something within our ecosystem — it will continue to play out on Apple Music [radio] as always.
What will the “interstitial” content you mentioned be like?
We’ve produced a ton of content out of our live radio stations — Apple Music 1, Hits and Country — and while a lot of that content is radio, we produce video content in support of those efforts, so we will be using the TV channel to highlight some of those fantastic interviews with all of our hosts. So it will be a combination of interviews in full playing out between songs and also shorter-form pieces, like Katy Perry talking about her new track and things like that, taking pieces of content from previous interviews and then buttoning them up next to the appropriate song.
There hasn’t been anything on this scale since old-school MTV. What need is this fulfilling in the Apple universe and the industry as a whole?
I think the purpose of this is really to create another space for consumers to enjoy music. We want to serve all kinds of music lovers, and often even lean-forward music fans want a lean-back solution that they can set and forget. We just think it’s an awesome way to experience music
Is it an extension of the radio properties? Does it have a different programming staff?
There’s obviously people who are programming radio specifically, and then there’s a team of music programmers who are producing all the content that you see on playlists — those two teams collaborate every day on the songs that we want to get behind on all of our platforms. So it’s a similar process: The teams that are managing Apple Music 1 is very dedicated to that world but we collaborate with them, and the TV music-curation is [thinks], more than 12.
Will there be documentaries on the channel?
Apple TV Plus is the part of our organization that is invested in long-form content, music or otherwise. We love working with those guys and the collaboration around the Bruce project has been phenomenal, we did the same with the Beastie Boys and there will be more to come, more music projects where we’re able to really collaborate and bring the two ecosystems together, and that’s something that we feel very much that only Apple can do. If there’s a music product like the Bruce doc, we’re able to do a lot of things to support that release in the music space, which not only helps the movie product itself but also the artist and their entire catalog.
Will there be ads?
No, there will not be ads.