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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