Here’s how Beats Music is curating its subscription service

Beats Music, the yet-to-be-launched digital subscription service spearheaded by Jimmy Iovine, wants to edge out competitors like Spotify and Rdio through human curation, but the company hasn’t really explained how this will work. However, we were able to learn some interesting details about Beats Music’s ongoing curation efforts through internal guidance it has shared with freelancers involved in these efforts.

At the core of the Beats Music experience will be playlists created by both well-known musicians as well as music writers. Musicians are presumably given more of a carte blanche to compile playlists based on the music they personally like, but the company also contracted with a number of freelancers who have been compiling thousands of playlists on an assignment basis.

Freelancers are given access to a special web authoring system that allows them to listen to songs and compile them in specific playlists based on requests from Beats Music editors. Playlists can be based on the work of an artist, a genre, a year or even an activity, like BBQing or working out.

Freelancers are told to build these playlists for certain archetypes of listeners, like the 40-year-old country fan or the teenage hip hop listener, but also keep other factors in mind such as moods and activities done while listening. And the average playlist is meant to be less than 70 minutes long, or just enough to be finished during a long commute.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: Beats Music definitely doesn’t want to sound like college radio. It wants human curation, but no strong DJ characters, with the exception of those well-known musicians asked to participate. Freelancers are told to “beware of personal whims” and “avoid overly clever transitions.” Oh, and “talking down to listeners” isn’t desired, either. Record store clerks apparently don’t need to apply.

Check out this snippet from internal Beats training material:

beats music internal screenshot

Beats Music’s human curation is just one of the ways with which music subscription services are trying to make their 20 million plus catalogs a little less intimidating to the average listener. Spotify preemptively launched its own human curation this month, and Rdio recently debuted a Pandora-like radio listening experience to keep the music going when its users run out of ideas of what to listen to next.