Beats 1

In the era of social media, it’s heard to deny the sensation of FOMO. Fear of missing out, for those who don’t know, is the overwhelming feeling of anxiety that something interesting is happening somewhere and you’re not there to witness it. For someone who’s so heavily involved in hip-hop culture, I experience this feeling quite often while scrolling through Twitter. Every time I see pictures or video of a performance, a recording session, a pop-up shop or a music video shoot, I hear myself say, “Damn, I wish I was there!” This happens more and more thanks to the growth of artist-sponsored radio programs on streaming services.

While the actual radio continues its decline in the face of streaming, it’s ironic that those very same streaming services, Apple Music being the most prominent, have come to feature “radio stations” of their very own. Beats 1 Radio has seen a steady rise in popularity, based heavily on the fact that influential artists are gaining more traction with their own coordinated radio programs. OVO Radio has had fans on their toes since it’s premier, playing exclusive content from Drake, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and more. Since then, Travis Scott (.wav Radio), Run the Jewels (WRTJ Radio), DJ Khaled (We the Best Radio), Major Lazer (Lazer Sound) and Future (FBG Radio) have stamped their sound into the world of streaming radio.  The most recent has been the surprise addition of Frank Ocean‘s blonded RADIO.

The more these programs pop up, the more I feel as though I’m missing out on cultural experiences. Exasperated by the never-ending hope for new music on such programs, my FOMO has reached new heights. Scrolling through Twitter and seeing that, oh, so-and-so just released a song on so-and-so’s program, or hey, this new project is getting it’s premier on this or that program, leads to me feeling left out of such a seemingly important event. Of course, we all have the opportunity to take in music at our own pace whenever we have the time and patience to do so, but there’s nothing quite like being in the live moment, experiencing it at the same time as millions across the world and witnessing first-hand reactions on social media.

To me it feels like a marketing ploy by Apple. “Let’s have artists present these shows and fans will listen based solely on the hope that they’ll play something new”. And of course that doesn’t always happen. Every time I do have the chance to listen to an artist’s radio show, a little piece of me cringes when they play a previously released or unrelated track, realizing that they’ve got me hooked. On the other hand, it does give us a look at the type of music that these artists listen to and from whom they draw influence. This was especially the case with Frank’s show, which played everything from Prince to Aphex Twin to the Pixies and Kodak Black.

Being the major Frank fan that I am, waking up to the realization that I missed the premiere of his Beats 1 Radio show stung. It felt as though my biological need for sleep had imparted on my duty to him as a fan, and I had let him down. This was a similar feeling I had when I fell asleep watching the first few minutes of his stair-building video, waking up and praying I didn’t miss anything important.

The same goes for pop-up shops. It sucks that such great fan experiences are only able to be in larger cities, while those fans who can’t make it can only wish they’d been able to enjoy the treat. Along with pop-up shops, radio programs seem to only bless fans who are willing to sarifice so much of their time, while the rest are left hanging with major FOMO. But maybe that’s the point. Through social media, artists are constantly vying for every second of our attention, so why not reward those who are paying attention the most?

I just wish that sometimes, it didn’t make me feel so left out.