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16 Aug

Review: Beats1 Radio vs. RBMA Radio, A side by side review by Javas Skolo.

The music industry continues to evolve on a daily, well maybe every other but it is rapidly evolving. Moving in all sorts of directions, backwards and forward. Vinyl made a huge comeback, it’s every hipster’s must have item in their open plan apartments overlooking different cities around the world. Now it’s not just Raekwon re-issuing Only Built 4 Cuban Links on cassette, every 90s album anniversary comes with a limited cassette edition, yes in 2016.

One trend that has stood out and continues to soar is music streaming, I know you think that it’s unnecessary in a high priced data country like ours and you can easily get the audio rip on your favourite pirating site. Well that means you are settling for 128kbps audio, meaning I will never like you, but that’s neither here nor there. Streaming has gone beyond just playing that hard to bootleg album , there’s actual shows now. I took a conscious decision to follow a friend’s advice to remove music from my phone migrate to streaming, which is a very costly way of listening to music in South Africa.


I use a couple of apps to stream music, namely Dash which has stations like Odd Future and XXL radio, Tune in for international and local radio stations, I cannot afford a Tidal subscription so we’ll leave that out. My two best apps for streaming are apple’s Beats1 radio and Red Bull Music Academy Radio, which is why we are here, I’m gonna give you an input on which of the two I think is the best.

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User Friendliness

Both apps are quite user friendly, but we are pitting them against each other. So Beats1 is very user friendly, if you can maneuver around the iTunes store then this will be very easy for you. RBMA on the other hand has not existing parent app that could have eased us into it’s interface, it takes a good 2-3days to get used to but if you binge streaming make that a day.

 The interface looks quite easy, but trying to find the station to look at the tracklist when you just started using this app can be a mission. Talking about tracklist this is one of the best things about this app unlike Beats1 you can view the whole tracklist of the show as it plays as opposed to seeing it as it plays on Beats1.

Line Up/Shows

With seasoned radio personalities like Ebro Darden of Hot97 and the legendary Zane Lowe, and shows like OVO Sound and the recently debuted .wav Radio with Travis Scott, you’d think Beats1 got this one in the bag already, wrong. RBMA has quite a number of good shows of it’s own, like Earl Sweatshirt’s monthly show with Knxwledge and Across 135th Street with frequent Red Bull Lectures interviewer Chairman Mao. The only downside is the RBMA takes some time before you get new episodes.

The other downside to Beats1 is that you can’t set reminders for when shows begin in the app, you literally have do it on your phone’s reminders app. RBMA has made reminders so easy with just a click on the bell in the show info page.


Even though Hip Hop shows disappear from RBMA Radio from Thursday through Saturday, Beats1 keeps the Hip Hop coming on the weekends, be it through shows like Q Tip’s the abstract or DJ Khaled’s We The Best show. It makes weekending a breeze, on the other side on RBMA radio weekends are very hipster, electronic and indie. Ranging from artists like Transmicsoul to Lunice.

In conclusion RBMA radio is more for the underground but world touring artists and Beats1 is straight up mainstream, with exclusives and world premieres. RBMA is like a less technical music class, you just learn more about music from around the world better than you would on Beats1. It could be my data plan, but the data consumption by these two is quite fair as opposed to Soundcloud.

Go on and try the apps and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or @javas_skolo on whichever site you live a fake rich life on.

Javas Skolo is a frequent contributor to this site, co-host of The Sobering Podcast and a real nigga for life. Opinions expressed in this piece are purely his and not those of Kool Out, The Sobering Podcast, his affiliates and/or his three baby mamas.

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