Trent Reznor Discusses Apple Music, Beats 1 Radio + How Other Services Left Him ‘Feeling Lacking’
Apple Music goes live today (June 30), and just ahead of that, Trent Reznor -- one of the architects behind the Beats 1 radio portion of the newly launched streaming service -- spoke to Rolling Stone about his hopes for the platform and his thoughts on the streaming industry as a whole.
"My own travels led me to think that subscription [streaming], if it was done right, really would be the best experience for music fans,” Reznor said. “But my experience with existing services left me feeling a little lacking."
Reznor was the Chief Creative Officer at Beats Music before it was acquired by Apple last year. Since then, Reznor has maintained a role in helping the company craft its radio division, which the Nine Inch Nails frontman hopes -- along with the platform’s emphasis on human-curated selections as opposed to the use of algorithms -- will help personalize users’ experiences with the service and return a record store-like quality to music discovery.
"I want that feeling of walking into an independent record shop, if there are still any that exist, like Amoeba [Records], and being delighted by the choices and the way music is presented to you with love and care,” he said. “It's exciting. And you leave with stuff you wouldn't have dreamed you wanted and you're excited to listen and share it and experience it."
Reznor added that Apple Music will differentiate itself from the pack by bringing back a human element to streaming. “When you listen to a radio station here, every song has been chosen by somebody," the singer said. "When your recommendations pop up ‘For You,’ that wasn't based on some tag that came into the system; it was based on editors sitting and saying, ‘We like this subgenre of hip-hop which branches off into these artists which branch off into these artists,’ and paying attention to the actual behavior in the app.”
“It makes music feel more personal and it raises it up a notch into something what it deserves, rather than a big-box-retailer feel, like, ‘Here's the stuff, pick what you want,’” he continued. “And some people will say that none of that matters, but it does to us and we are proud of the love and care that we are treating music with.”
For Beats 1 radio, Reznor was first inspired by Zane Lowe and the excitement and enthusiasm for music the host brought to his BBC Radio 1 show. "In today's streaming, all-access world, sometimes it feels nice to know that there are other people out there and feel like you're tuned into something that communally other people are listening to," Reznor said.
Once Lowe was on board, he helped set the creative direction for the rest of Beats 1, which has since gathered a host of top talent to helm its upcoming shows, including Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, St. Vincent, Elton John, Dr. Dre and more.
For Reznor’s part, he’s also providing some of Apple Music's exclusive content: a compilation of all-instrumental outtakes from Nine Inch Nails’ 1999 album, The Fragile.