Echelon’s Peloton-like ‘Prime Bike’ is not an Amazon product

Some headlines overnight suggested that Amazon was launching its own exercise bike to take on Peloton, in partnership with a company called Echelon. You can see the press release that sparked those reports here: claiming that “Echelon’s new EX-Prime Smart Connect Bike – also known as the Prime Bike –officially hit the online market as Amazon’s […]

Amazon Music gets Latin music hub and exclusive Neil Young EP

Amazon Music is the latest streaming service to make a concerted push around music from Latin America, with its new ‘Amazon Music Lat!n’ hub. It will offer a mix of Latin playlists, original/exclusive tracks, interview and mini-documentary videos with artists, and podcasts. There’s also a program called ‘Rompe’ to promote emerging artists in the US, […]

Facebook and Xiaomi join Amazon’s Voice Interoperability Initiative

A year ago we reported on a new ‘Voice Interoperability Initiative’ from Amazon, which was created to ensure that different voice assistants could work on the same devices. Spotify, Sonos, Microsoft, Baidu and Tencent were among the first companies to join Amazon in the initiative. Now it has announced some more: Dolby, Facebook, Garmin and Xiaomi, taking […]

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 […]

Artist Rights Alliance challenges Amazon Music-Twitch integration

The Artist Rights Alliance (ARA), an industry body representing songwriters and musicians, has been vocal in its criticism of Amazon, sending Jeff Bezos a letter demanding a better answer than, “I don’t know” when he was asked by the US Congress about music licensing on the Amazon-owned Twitch platform. After yesterday’s announcement of Twitch’s music livestreams being […]

Amazon Music integrates Twitch livestreaming into app

It’s almost a surprise that this hasn’t happened sooner, but Amazon Music has now integrated Twitch, the live streaming service owned by Amazon, into its Amazon Music mobile apps. Artists can now livestream via Twitch, with the streams appearing on their profile page in the Amazon Music mobile app, and followers will be alerted when they […]

Amazon Halo sees tech giant get into the digital fitness game

Apple has quietly been becoming a digital health and fitness company for a while now, with wellbeing becoming a key selling point for its Apple Watch smartwatch. Now Amazon wants in on the fitness-wearables game. It has unveiled a device called Halo, which is a fitness band (sadly not one that hovers above your head) […]

Covid-19 sparked ‘boom’ in paid subscriptions in UK says ERA

‘How Britain entertained itself during lockdown’ is the title of the latest press release from UK body the Entertainment Retailers Association (Era). Surprisingly, the answer isn’t ‘doomscrolling Twitter in tears and making forts from panic-bought toilet rolls and flour’. Era is understandably more focused on music, TV and gaming habits, and a “boom in sales […]

NMPA hopeful of keeping songwriters’ top line rate increase

We reported yesterday on the ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal by Amazon, Google, Pandora and Spotify against new songwriter royalty rates set by the US Copyright Royalty Board. The decision was seen as backing the streaming services in ruling against the procedure used to set the new rates. Now […]

Report claims Amazon is adding podcasts to its music service

When we interviewed Amazon’s music boss Steve Boom earlier this year, we asked him if Amazon Music might follow Spotify’s push into podcasts. “I can’t talk much about it… we’ve been noting with interest how much time they’re spending on podcasting, but I don’t really have much to say on it,” he said. That may change […]

Amazon Music goes deep on catalogue: starts with Bob Marley

Amazon Music has announced a new initiative called [Re]Discover, which it says will focus on digging into artists’ back catalogues. It’s kicking off with Bob Marley this month: there’s a [Re]Discover branded playlist drawn from his entire career, but also the launch of an ‘Official Bob Marley Store’ on Amazon’s main shopping service, bringing together music streams, […]

Amazon IVS could help music companies build their own Twitch

Amazon already owns one of the key livestreaming video platforms, in Twitch. Now its Amazon Web Services division is launching something that could help brands (perhaps including labels) to create their own-brand versions of Twitch. It’s called Amazon Interactive Video Services (IVS) and is described as “a managed live streaming solution that is quick and easy to […]

Twitch set for multi-week run of Amazon Music Sessions

Slowly but surely, the crossover between Amazon Music and its parent company’s Twitch subsidiary is growing. Amazon Music’s channel on the livestreaming platform has been ramping up during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the streaming service has also been throwing some promotional weight behind artists’ own streams on Twitch. Now it’s launching a series of ‘Amazon […]

Report: Amazon Music subscriptions grew by 104% in last year

Research firm Counterpoint Research has published its latest estimates for the size of the music streaming market globally. It claims that by the end of March there were 394m music subscriptions globally, representing year-on-year growth of 35%. Counterpoint also offered its estimates for some of the biggest players, suggesting that Spotify accounted for 33% of […]

Report: there were 400m music subscribers globally at end of Q1 2020

There were 341 million people using paid music subscriptions at the end of 2019, according to global music industry body the IFPI. Now we’ve got an update on that figure, albeit from a different source. Consultancy firm Midia Research has published its music subscriber market share figures for Q1 2020, claiming that by the end of March […]

Garth Brooks to get his own tile in Words With Friends 2

Well, the partnership is more than just a tile, but given Garth Brooks’ status as an “avid Words With Friends player” we suspect he’s pretty proud of that achievement. The partnership with games firm Zynga is actually part of Brooks’ longstanding relationship with Amazon. “Under the arrangement, Brooks will promote Words With Friends with original […]

Amazon Music’s Steve Boom talks growth, Alexa, playlists and more

This is the second part of our Amazon Music piece, based on a face-to-face interview in February that was being held for our Q1 2020 report in early April. Given the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic since February, we had a follow-up conversation with Amazon Music VP Steve Boom. Part one is based on […]

Amazon Music’s Steve Boom talks Covid-19, MusiCares and lockdown listening trends

“It’s been very gratifying to see the music community pull together… It’s gone really well: we’ve raised over $10m now. Unfortunately, the need is enormous. We’ve had over 10,000 applications for aid already, and we’re only six weeks into this thing. The crisis is going to be long lasting…” Steve Boom is VP of Amazon […]

Amazon to begin testing its staff for Covid-19 infection

Amazon has announced that it will begin testing some of its ‘frontline’ workers for Covid-19, even if they are not showing any symptoms. “Regular testing on a global scale, across all industries, would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running,” wrote CEO Jeff Bezos in his annual letter to […]

Music Ally Report :: Q1 2020 Edition

Our main Music Ally report is getting bigger and going quarterly! This is the first edition of the new report including some of the new elements we’ve been planning, with more to be added in the Q2 report in early July. We couldn’t ignore the coronavirus pandemic, of course, so there’s a feature exploring some […]

Twitch will get games for streamers and viewers to play together

Amazon has been publishing games for a while now: its Amazon Game Studios division has been around since 2015. However, the company is preparing a new push, investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” in its games development and distribution business according to the New York Times. That includes big-budget PC games, but we’re just as interested […]

Sandbox Issue 249: What music can learn from YouTube’s biggest channels

Lead: Music is critical to YouTube while the music industry (beyond the politics of the value gap debate) is hugely reliant on the platform. But so too are other content types. We look at the biggest channels on YouTube generally – including categories such as comedy, education, film, sports and gaming (as well as music […]

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 […]

Amazon Music launches analytics for artists with a mobile app

With more than 55 million music streaming users around the world, most of whom are paying, Amazon is the third biggest player in the global music subscriptions market behind Spotify and Apple Music. One area in which it has lagged those rivals has been artist analytics: the data it provides artists and their teams on […]

Love ISN’T in the air as DSPs’ US royalty-rates appeal kicks off

David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers Association in the US, has never been a man to pull his verbal punches when taking digital services to task. “Songwriters: This week, Spotify and Amazon are quite literally taking you to court,” is how his latest guest column for Billboard begins, and it doesn’t get any less […]

Music streaming services support International Women’s Day

This Sunday (8 March) is International Women’s Day, and as has become traditional, the big music streaming services are all celebrating the occasion. Spotify will be launching a new ‘Women’s History Month’ hub on Sunday, with all-women playlists and podcasts, as well as IWD-themed takeovers of some of its popular playlists. Apple is hosting a […]

Sony Music and The Orchard held a machine-learning hackathon

Sony Music, The Orchard and Amazon Web Services held a machine-learning focused hackathon last week. Music Ally couldn’t make the event, so we asked if Sony could give us some information about the winning hacks. The label group came back with a full report on the event, quotes’n’all. So, in its own words, here’s what […]

How many users do Spotify, Apple Music and other big music streaming services have?

Sometimes the statistics around how many people are streaming music – and how many are paying for it – can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. Recently, for example, we’ve seen one story suggesting that Amazon was “on course to overtake Apple Music” based on comparing an Amazon figure from January 2020 with one from Apple […]

Amazon Prime membership has now grown to 150m worldwide

Usually when Music Ally reports on Amazon’s financial results, we add in a sentence noting that the company hasn’t disclosed any useful numbers for its music services. This time round, the reason is different: the company already disclosed some earlier in the month, when it revealed that it now has more than 55 million Amazon […]

Amazon now has more than 55m music streaming users

Amazon has announced a big milestone for its music-streaming business: more than 55 million users. “The streaming service has reached more than 55 million customers globally, with subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited growing by more than 50% last year alone,” claimed Amazon in its announcement. In an accompanying interview with the Financial Times, music boss […]

Amazon Prime now has 112m members in the US alone claims CIRP

Amazon’s Prime membership is a huge driver for its music-streaming services, so how is it growing in the US? Research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) has put out some new estimates. It claims that the number of American Prime members grew by 11% to 112 million at the end of 2019, with 52% of those […]

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band gets immersive with Dolby

Bad news if you want to hear the all-new remixed version of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the flesh: tickets to the “immersive experience” in the band’s native Liverpool are already sold out. The good news, however, is that the remix – in the Dolby Atmos format – is also being made available […]

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 […]

Jukedeck founder responds to Amazon’s DeepComposer launch

We reported yesterday on Amazon’s announcement of DeepComposer, a musical keyboard designed to help developers explore generative AI. Now Ed Newton-Rex, founder of one of the first AI-music startups, Jukedeck, has been giving his views on what Amazon’s announcement means. That includes the fact that it’s the fourth of the ‘big five’ tech companies to publicly […]

Amazon’s free-streaming ambitions expand to more devices

When Amazon launched a free, ad-supported music-streaming service in April, it was only available in the US, for Echo smart speakers. That careful rollout is now expanding considerably: Amazon’s ad-supported music tier is now available in the UK and Germany too, through the Amazon Music smartphone app and FireTV devices as well as Echos. Limitations remain: this is […]

Amazon to launch new series of ‘Amazon Original’ Christmas songs

Mince pies are in the shops, Mariah Carey is lurking in the lower reaches of the charts, and Amazon is joining the early-Christmas fun with its latest crop of brand-new festive tracks. They’re part of its Amazon Originals program, and this year the company is promising to release ‘many’ Christmas songs over the coming weeks, exclusively […]

Amazon set to add music videos to Amazon Music Unlimited

Fresh from adding an ‘HD’ tier to its Music Unlimited streaming service, Amazon appears to be preparing to add another element in to the mix: music videos. At least, that’s the gist of a ‘direct license amendment’ sent to licensors on behalf of Amazon by rights-management firm Music Reports. The email, which Music Ally has […]

It’s Mariah Carey’s Christmas; we just live in it

‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ is Mariah Carey’s biggest streaming hit by a distance: it has 511.9m Spotify streams and 555m YouTube views, for example. The ‘Merry Christmas’ album the track originally featured on is getting the ‘deluxe anniversary edition’ treatment for its 25th anniversary this year, too, while in the UK Carey […]

Nearly 1,000 musicians join protest against Amazon’s ICE contracts

Amazon recently announced plans to host its own festival in Las Vegas this December, called Intersect. It’s billed as “the place where music, technology, and art converge”, but the event is rousing some strong protests from musicians due to the involvement of Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud-technology division. Why? This article will fill you in on […]

Security fears raised around Amazon and Google smart speakers

We’ve written about this before: the music industry may be excited about the growth in sales of smart speakers, but privacy campaigners have their concerns about this device category. Those concerns are relevant to our industry too: so here’s news of a new experiment conducted by Security Research Labs that’s making headlines. It developed skills for Amazon’s […]

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’s ‘voice interoperability initiative’ includes Spotify

“Voice services should work seamlessly alongside one another on a single device, and… voice-enabled products should be designed to support multiple simultaneous wake words.” That’s the key sentence in the announcement of the Voice Interoperability Initiative, which has been created by one of the prime movers in voice technology: Amazon. It has mustered more than 30 companies […]

Amazon Music gets an HD tier, starting in the US, UK, Japan and Germany

Amazon Music has become the biggest music-streaming service yet to add a higher-quality tier. Amazon Music HD launches in the US, UK, Germany and Japan this week. It will cost $12.99 a month for Amazon Prime members and $14.99 a month for non-members. That’s $5 more than the cost of the existing Amazon Music service […]

YouTube and Amazon push for US students’ music subscriptions

The summer holidays are just a couple of weeks in here in the UK where Music Ally is written from, so seeing ‘back to school’ headlines from the US already is a strange experience. Part of that, though, is the upcoming start of another academic year for older students, and music-streaming services are joining the […]

Amazon invites brands to test audio ads in free music service

Amazon launched its ad-supported music-streaming tier in April, initially in the US, but details of its plans for that advertising haven’t been talked about much. Now Advertising Age has bagged a copy of Amazon’s pitch deck to brands, and says that the likes of Colgate, L’Oréal and Lululemon are among those invited to test ‘audio ads’ […]

Amazon planning ‘high-end Echo’? But it already has one…

There was a slightly puzzling report on Bloomberg last Friday claiming that Amazon “is developing a higher quality version of the Echo Speaker” that will be released by next year. “Prototypes of the cylindrical speaker are wider than the current Echo to squeeze in additional components including at least four tweeters,” reported Bloomberg. “Amazon has previously […]

Report: Amazon had 32m music subscribers by April 2019

Amazon is famously cagey when it comes to releasing meaningful numbers for its music services, but a well-briefed report by the Financial Times this morning offers some new numbers. “The number of people subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited has grown by about 70 per cent in the past year, according to people briefed on its performance,” it […]

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 debuts ‘Handpicked’ artist playlists, starting with Katy Perry

Ice cream. Weepy movies. Three-hour gym sessions. Howling at the moon like a crestfallen wolf. All good ways to respond to being dumped. Or you could listen to Katy Perry’s new ‘Songs About Moving On’ playlist on Amazon Music, of course. It’s the first in a new series of playlists for Amazon under the banner […]

Amazon’s Twitch has acquired venerable social network Bebo

Here’s a generational test: do you remember Bebo? Did you have a profile on it? The social network’s heyday, in western Europe at least, was in 2006-2008, before an $850m acquisition by AOL that coincided neatly with Facebook’s emergence to leave Bebo trailing in its wake. Yet Bebo has continued to exist, through further acquisitions, […]

Amazon revamps Echo Dot Kids speaker despite privacy concerns

Amazon has launched a new version of its Echo Dot Kids smart speaker, which was originally released in April 2018. The new version is louder and comes in new colours like ‘Frost Blue’ and ‘Rainbow’. The $70 device will also include a year’s subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime service, which gathers child-friendly content and Alexa skills. Amazon […]

Sandbox issue 230: Why Email Marketing Is More Important Than Ever

Lead: Email marketing is far from dead. We look at why it is still relevant, how email tools and platforms are getting smarter and where they are allowing users greater ways to target audiences, segment audiences and personalise messaging. Yet there are still many pitfalls, so in this issue we outline how to use email […]

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 […]

Filing: Amazon spent $1.7bn on music and video content in Q1

We reported on Amazon’s latest financial results last week. In the official filing, the company revealed a music stat! Albeit one bundled in with video. “Total video and music expense was $1.5 billion and $1.7 billion in Q1 2018 and Q1 2019,” reported Amazon. “Total video and music expense includes licensing and production costs associated with […]

Amazon’s ad-supported music service launched in the US first

Some of its thunder may have been stolen by YouTube Music’s free, ad-supported launch on Google Home and other smart speakers, but Amazon has nevertheless launched its own free tier for Alexa-enabled devices. As reported prior to the launch, the tier is supported by advertising, and can be used by people without a Prime membership. […]

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 […]

Polyglot marketing: streaming’s many and varied global battle lines

The IFPI’s global sales figures for 2018 were, once again, all about streaming driving the industry’s recovery. The overall market was up 9.7% (both downloads and physical declined sharply), while streaming jumped 34% and now makes up 46.9% of revenues globally. The jostling for dominance in this booming market is something that will continue apace, […]

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 […]

Report: Amazon Music will grow faster than rivals in the US

Earlier this week, we reported on figures published by research firm eMarketer, suggesting that Spotify might overtake Pandora for US listeners by 2021. Now the company has broken out some more of its predictions for the US market, this time focusing on Amazon’s music-streaming business. “Amazon Music will cross 35 million monthly listeners in the US this […]

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 […]

Elizabeth Warren’s big-tech breakup could affect music-streaming

We’ll be honest: there are lots of reasons that US Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren thinks the biggest technology companies should be broken up: and none of them are directly about what the benefits might be for music listeners, artists and the music industry. But given the ongoing debate about ‘platform-to-business’ regulation – how the […]

US publishers slam streaming services over CRB rates appeal

The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the US has given Amazon and Spotify both barrels over their decision to appeal against the recent songwriter royalty rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board. Yet it seems other companies are also appealing. Spotify, Google and Pandora have confirmed that they have asked the US Court of […]

Amazon gets artist-curated International Women’s Day playlists

This Friday (8 March) is International Women’s Day, which has become something that pretty much every music-streaming service throws its weight behind in some way, particularly curated playlists. Amazon Music, for example, has roped in a bunch of ‘guest curators’ from the artist world this year, and it’s a super selection: *takes deep breath* Jess […]

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 […]

Mumford & Sons launch ‘reimagined’ songs for Amazon Music

British band Mumford & Sons have become the latest artist to produce some exclusive music for Amazon Music. Although in this case, the songs are already well-known: what’s exclusive are new ‘reimagined’ versions of ‘White Blank Page’ and ‘Forever’. Amazon is suggesting that fans say ‘Alexa, play the Amazon Original by Mumford and Sons’ to […]

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