Tom Walker is quizzing his fans in his new Alexa skill

The latest artist to get their own Alexa skill for Amazon’s smart speakers is Tom Walker, for whom Sony Music UK has launched ‘No. 1 Fan Music Quiz’. It’s a daily quiz where Walker sets the questions (about his own “songs, musical training and celebrity friends”) and fans test their knowledge by answering them. The […]

Sandbox Issue 253: Music Marketing in Lockdown

Lead: We are now several weeks into lockdown and have moved far, far beyond just “doing a livestream”. There was some wavering at the start as to whether albums should be delayed by several weeks or brought forward, but now everyone is having to roll their sleeves up and get on with it. The music […]

Marshmello and Halsey offer up a Thought Of The Day on Alexa

We are seeing more artists embrace the possibilities of voice assistants, led by Amazon’s Alexa music + Alexa. Witness The 1975’s recent use of an Alexa skill to nudge fans towards their latest website. Amazon, too, is encouraging artists and labels to experiment with voice technology more, including through partnerships on its own content features. This week, […]

Amazon Alexa gets smarter with some new music features

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has some new tricks in the way it deals with music. Launched this week, they include the ability to serve (on request) a cappella, live, remix, instrumental and other versions of tracks. “Saying commands like ‘Alexa, play the Con Calma remix’ or ‘Alexa, play live J. Cole songs’ kicks off the […]

Alexa in-skill purchases off to a sluggish start for Amazon

Music Ally has written about ‘in-skill purchases’ before: they’re the equivalent of in-app purchases for the third-party skills created for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. A way for developers to make money from their Alexa skills, in other words, by charging users for extra content or features. Tech-news site The Information claims that the feature is off to […]

Amazon’s Alexa can now play podcasts from Apple and Spotify

Podcasts are already one of the uses for smart speakers, but that activity could be boosted in the US by the latest announcements from Amazon. From last Friday (13 December) it became possible for American Alexa customers to ask for podcasts as well as music. Interestingly, Amazon’s announcement only included Apple, with more than 800k podcasts […]

Amazon launches Echo smart-speakers and Alexa in Brazil

In September, Amazon launched its Prime membership program in Brazil, including its music-streaming services. Less than a month later, that launch has been followed by the debut of Amazon’s Echo smart speakers in Brazil, along with the Alexa voice-assistant’s new ability to speak and understand Brazilian Portugese language. “Customers across Brazil will be able to ask for […]

Amazon reveals details on how it keeps Alexa data

In an exchange with US senator Chris Coons, Amazon has been explaining more about how it stores data on people’s interactions with its Alexa voice assistant. Coons had written to the company asking how long it stores recordings and transcripts, and got an answer from Amazon’s VP of public policy Brian Huseman. And the answer? […]

Amazon launches Alexa in-skill purchasing internationally

It’s often assumed that you can’t make money from any ‘skills’ (the smart-speaker equivalent of apps) for voice assistants like Alexa. Actually, Amazon launched a feature called ‘in-skill purchasing’ in the US last year to enable exactly that. Now the feature is expanding globally, starting with the UK, Germany and Japan. “Soon, developers from around […]

Amazon under fire after report on teams listening to Alexa users

Props to Bloomberg for its punchy intro to a report about how Amazon is managing its Alexa voice-assistant platform. “Tens of millions of people use smart speakers and their voice software to play games, find music or trawl for trivia. Millions more are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out […]

Does Alexa need a ‘robot body’ to go to the next level?

We’re getting used to chatting to smart speakers, but what if Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri manifested themselves as actual robots? Strange though it may seem, Amazon is thinking about the idea. “The only way to make smart assistants really smart is to give it eyes and let it explore the world,” said Rohit Prasad, head […]

AI-music startup Endel to release albums through Warner Music

Music Ally has for some time been covering the emerging wave of startups exploring AI music: algorithms trained on catalogues of existing music, with the aim of then being able to create their own new melodies – and even entire tracks. Thus far, the most prominent commercial model for all this has been that espoused […]

Sandbox Issue 224: Up Hit Creek. THE DRY STREAMS PARADOX

Lead: The Dry Streams Paradox is when there is a huge gap between the number of streams an act gets and the number of fans they have or can reach. Just because someone plays one of your songs, it does not follow that they even know what your name is. Does this all mean that […]

Podcasts app Pocket Casts is launching an Amazon Alexa skill

For people who aren’t using iTunes or Spotify to get their podcasts, Pocket Casts is one of the better independent podcast apps. Now it’s making an interesting leap from smartphones to smart speakers, courtesy of its new Alexa skill. “You can play any of your podcasts by name, ‘Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play the latest […]

Sandbox Issue 220: Vault-ing Ambitions

Lead: While Netflix viewers are currently obsessing over Marie Kondo and her rules on de-cluttering the home (instructing viewers to only hold onto the things that “spark joy”), a different approach needs to happen in digital marketing. Rather than binning everything but the essentials, archivists and markets should be retaining as much as they can […]

Michael Bublé is the latest artist to get his own Alexa skill

Paloma Faith, then Little Mix, and now Michael Bublé. The Canadian crooner is the latest artist to get his own Alexa skill – a voice-controlled app for Echo smart speakers and other devices using Amazon’s virtual assistant. Fans saying ‘Alexa, open Bublé Daily’ will get access to the skill, which has launched in the UK, […]

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