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Apple further expands into original podcasts with launch of 'The Zane Lowe Interview Series'

Sarah Perez

Apple has quietly expanded its original podcast efforts with Friday's launch of The Zane Lowe Interview Series, available on Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and via RSS. Though technically not Apple's first-ever podcast, the new series is the first series aimed at Apple's consumers that focuses exclusively on entertainment content. The episodes in the series will feature Apple's Global Creative Director Zane Lowe in conversations with leading artists like Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Hayley Williams and, most recently, Lady Gaga.

Apple Music has published podcasts before, but not of this nature.

The company today uses its platform to distribute its corporate news, such as the Apple Keynotes podcast, Apple Quarterly Earnings Call and Events at the Apple Store. While the latter is aimed at consumers, it's an entirely different genre of programming. Its focus is Apple's retail events, which may include big-name celebs at times, but whose larger purpose is tied to bringing in customers to Apple stores and showing off how Apple's devices and software are used in the creation of art, music, photography and movies.

Last year, the Apple Music team also experimented with the podcasting medium to distribute its 2019 Grammy's Celebration, which had first streamed live on Beats 1 that February.

The Zane Lowe Interview Series, however, is less of a one-off.

Apple says that new episodes will debut on Apple Music on a regular basis. However, there isn't a set schedule for the release of new episodes, as with many other podcasts. Some weeks, Lowe may interview as many as four artists, and, the next week, he may interview none. While the conversations won't necessarily be tied to new album releases, they are a big driver.

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The series launched on Friday and was followed by an in-depth profile of Zane Lowe by The New York Times.

Already, there are more than a half-dozen episodes available, including the new Lady Gaga interview recorded ahead of the release of "Chromatica"; an interview with Paramore's Hayley Williams ahead of her first solo album; one with Justin Bieber to mark his release of "Changes"; a two-part interview with Kanye West recorded on the eve of the release of his ninth solo project, "Jesus is King"; an interview with Selena Gomez on the making of her third album, "Rare"; and one with Billie Eilish, detailing "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?"

Apple's launch of the original podcast series follows rival Spotify's significant investment in podcasts in recent years, including Spotify's acquisition of startups making podcasting tools, like Anchor, as well as acquisitions of podcast networks, like Gimlet and The Ringer, totaling $400 million. As a result, Spotify now offers its subscribers access to hundreds of original and exclusive podcasts, including, as of last month, one of the most popular podcasts to date: "The Joe Rogan Experience."

Apple's efforts, meanwhile, have been minimal to date. Besides its 2019 experiment with the Grammy's content and Apple's various corporate series, the company had yet to launch other consumer-facing podcasts. Bloomberg reported in January Apple was looking into making original podcasts to promote its Apple TV+ shows, but nothing on that front has yet to arrive.