Amazon Premier League deal could be a boost for music-streaming

This story may sound somewhat parochial, but bear with us. Amazon has paid an undisclosed amount for the rights to stream 20 English Premier League (football) matches for each of the three seasons starting in 2019. The games will be streamed to fans as part of the Amazon Prime Video service in the UK – this isn’t […]

Report claims Google beat Amazon for Q1 smart-speaker shipments

In well-established hardware markets like smartphones, the main research firms tend to agree – more or less – on the main market-share figures. For smart speakers, it seems there is more room for disagreement, aided by the fact that the main players aren’t publishing many figures themselves. For example, check out research firm Canalys’ latest […]

Alexa in the spotlight over sharing of private conversation

When privacy campaigners express concerns about the rise of smart speakers, the suggestion that big-tech firms are ‘listening in’ (and, indeed, potentially recording) private conversations is often raised as a worry. A story yesterdayabout an Echo recording a conversation between a husband and wife and then sending the audio to someone in their contacts list will […]

Spinnin’ Records rebrands playlists with smart-speakers in mind

Fresh from being acquired by Sony Music, dance label Spinnin’ Records is experimenting with its streaming playlists – with a particular focus on how they’re accessed through smart speakers. “While curated music content is becoming the norm, voice-recognition is rapidly changing the digital landscape. According to Google, about 20 percent of all mobile search queries […]

Facebook reportedly delays unveiling its smart speakers

More Facebook/privacy news – and stop us if this sounds familiar – the social network reportedly WON’T be unveiling its new hardware products at its f8 developer conference in May, as planned. As we predicted earlier this week, the ongoing revelations about how startup Cambridge Analytica accessed and used data on up to 50 million […]

Smart speakers’ impact on music: ‘I don’t think it can be overhyped…’

More than 26m smart speakers were shipped globally in 2017 according to research firm Futuresource, with the Amazon Echo and Google Home ranges proving popular devices. That was the spur for an event hosted by British music-industry bodies the BPI and ERA last night in London, and a report exploring the impact for music, published […]

Check out the Music Ally digital sessions at by:Larm 2018

The by:Larm festival and conference is always a highlight of the year for Music Ally, and we’re delighted to be heading back to Oslo this week for the 2018 event. We’re also running five panel sessions and a couple of insights talks during the conference, covering some of the digital topics close to our heart […]

Consumer Reports publishes initial HomePod comparison tests

The initial wave of reviews in the press about Apple’s HomePod smart speaker have been very positive about its hardware – specifically its audio quality. Now Consumer Reports has published some ‘early results’ of its comparative tests pitting the device against rivals. “Apple’s speaker does deliver very good audio performance, though it’s not the best-sounding […]

Amazon Alexa gets new music-playlist creation features

Amazon hasn’t made a big deal of its latest smart-speaker feature, but it’s an extremely interesting development for anyone who’s been thinking about how playlists evolve in a world of voice control. Users – initially on Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited in the US, we think – can now say commands like ‘Alexa, create […]

Apple HomePod reviews: sounds great, could be smarter

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker goes on sale this Friday (9 February) in the US, UK and Australia, with the first wave of reviews published yesterday. How does it compare to the Amazon Echo and Google Home ranges? Reviewers have been broadly positive, with the HomePod’s audio quality coming in for particular praise. “From dance pop […]

CMO Seth Farbman on Spotify: ‘It’s maybe more like a republic than a democracy’

Seth Farbman used to be chief marketing officer at clothing retailer The Gap. Now he’s marketing a music-streaming service, as CMO of Spotify. Farbman joined Music Biz and Music Ally’s NY:LON Connect conference in New York this morning for a fireside chat on how he sees the world. The moderator was Music Ally’s head of […]

Apple HomePod smart speaker will go on sale on 9 February

Apple HomePod, the company’s first smart speaker, will go on sale on 9 February in the US, UK and Australia, with pre-orders kicking off online this Friday (26 January). The company announced the dates today, having delayed the device’s planned launch in December 2017. It will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home among other […]

NPR / Edison: One in six Americans now own a smart speaker

January has already seen a flurry of new research into smart speakers, timed to coincide with the CES show in Las Vegas. The latest example comes from NPR and Edison Research, who surveyed 1,816 Americans in November and December. 16% said that they own a smart speaker, which scales up to around 39 million people […]

Roku is launching a voice assistant for smart speakers

Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and the rest of the voice-assistant gang will soon be getting a new member, from an unexpected source. Set-top box maker Roku has announced plans to launch the ‘Roku Entertainment Assistant’ by this autumn, which will be used to control entertainment on its own devices, as well […]

7digital’s Pete Downton talks streaming, telcos, voice control and Apple

In the mid-2000s, Pete Downton had a PowerPoint presentation. It included a slide with a map of the world plotting Warner Music Group’s licensing partnerships with 40 mobile operators: a network with a theoretical reach of 1.8 billion customers. “There was a certain amount of truth in that, because we had deals in place to […]

Edison Investment Research doubtful about Sonos prospects

Analyst firm Edison Investment Research has put out a note on Sonos’ prospects in the smart-speaker market, with its devices now supporting Alexa as well as Spotify Connect. It’s not optimistic. “By enabling both Spotify Connect and Amazon Echo, Sonos has removed the requirement for users to use its software which is a sign that […]

Report claims Apple HomePod is ‘a huge missed opportunity’

Apple has just announced that its HomePod smart speaker won’t be on sale until early in 2018. Now Bloomberg has been shedding more details on the backstory of the product, which if the article is true, paints a picture very different from the finely-honed R&D machine that Apple is often seen as. Among its claims: […]

7digital makes video news programme for Amazon’s Echo Show

7digital’s Entertainment News division is making the most of the screen that comes with Amazon’s Echo Show smart speaker. Just launched in the UK after its US debut earlier in the year, the Show has a seven-inch screen that means companies developing Alexa skills can add video and images in to the mix. The post […]

Baidu unveils Raven H smart speaker

Chinese technology firm Baidu has unveiled a new smart speaker, which will make its debut in its homeland this December. It’s called Raven H, and is the first product to be launched under Baidu’s umbrella by Raven Tech, a smart-home hardware startup that the company bought in February this year. The equivalent of Alexa, Siri […]

Amazon launches Echo devices and Alexa in Japan

Amazon is continuing its slow-but-steady global rollout of its Echo smart speakers and Alexa voice assistant. Having launched the devices in India in October, now they’re debuting in a major music market: Japan. The Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus speakers are available to pre-order today, and will ship to Japanese customers next week. Meanwhile, […]

Former 7digital boss launches Yoto smart-speaker for kids

Smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are a sensitive subject when it comes to children. While both those companies are encouraging developers to create child-friendly ‘skills’, there are concerns around privacy issues and data storage. Former 7digital CEO Ben Drury is hoping to avoid that with his new venture Yoto: a smart speaker […]

Apple HomePod keeps Siri voice commands for Apple Music

Business Insider has chosen its words carefully in an article about Apple’s new smart speaker: ‘Spotify won’t work with Siri on Apple’s HomePod’. It’s sparked by a message published by Apple for app developers about the SiriKit tools for HomePod: “With the intelligence of Siri, users control HomePod through natural voice interaction. And with SiriKit, […]

Smart speakers to fuel ‘tenfold’ increase in smart-home devices

Research firm Forrester’s latest prediction for the smart-devices market focuses on the US alone, we should say. “Smart home devices are expected to grow tenfold between 2017 and 2022,” claimed the company in its latest blog post. “Forrester expects the adoption of smart home devices in the US to be 10 times higher by 2022, […]

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