Amazon (Along with Practically Every Other Tech Giant) is Building Up its Live Audio Portfolio

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While watching a streamed Phish concert may not evoke all the nuanced sounds and sights (and smells) of the live performance, big tech is betting that music fans have a healthy appetite for virtual gigs.

Axios reported Tuesday that Amazon is investing heavily in a live audio feature with the goal of “disrupting traditional radio.”

Daft Punk Is Playing (Virtually) At My House

Hardly Amazon’s first foray into audio — the e-commerce giant is deep into investments in its podcast and music subscription buildout.

But with millions of Alexa and smart speaker devices deployed in people’s homes, Amazon is planning to pay musicians, celebrities, and podcast hosts for the rights to beam live content into kitchens and basements across the country:

  • Amazon is reaching out to major record labels to book artists for live audio events, while also plotting an integration of new audio features into its video service Twitch, according to sources.
  • The firm’s live audio undertaking will be initially focused on music, with talk programming coming later down the road. Amazon already acquired podcast subscription firm Wondery (valued at $300 million) last year.

The Audiophiles Of Silicon Valley

The live audio space is quickly getting crowded with many of tech’s biggest names:

  • Earlier this year, Spotify purchased app developer Betty Labs (along with its live audio app Locker Room) and has since launched live social audio app Greenroom, which focuses on music, sports, and “good conversation.”
  • Facebook released a plethora of audio products this year including Live Audio Rooms, a potential rival to social audio app Clubhouse. And Twitter this week opened up “Ticketed Spaces,” allowing popular users to earn cash for chatting with followers.

Refined Tastes: Along with the revelations of Amazon’s increasing push into audio, today Apple announced an acquisition of Primephonic, a streaming service specializing in the classical genre. Primephonic’s functionality and playlists will be adapted to Apple Music for a “significantly improved classical music experience,” with a standalone classic music app due in ’22.

Not for nothing: radio revenues dropped nearly 25% last year during the pandemic.