Can Amazon create the Prime Video of audio services?

Photo: @JulieK via Twenty20
Sep 03, 2021

Amazon is investing in the development of a new service that will let customers experience live concerts and other audio events through its popular voice-activated devices.

While no timeline has been announced, the e-tail giant is working on an offering adjacent to its music streaming platform, Amazon Music, which would bring live concerts, radio programs and podcasts to Alexa users, according to a report by Axios.

The move looks like an attempt to keep up with services like the newer audio app, Clubhouse, and other tech and social media giants, like Spotify, Twitter and Facebook, which have been making their own entries into facilitating live and interactive audio. Amazon has already made a move into localized podcast content, such as news and sports, with the $300 million purchase of a startup called Wondery in 2020.

Media and entertainment companies appear to be developing an interest in leveraging voice-based technology for marketing and content delivery. However, getting customers to move beyond searching, listening or otherwise consuming content is proving to have its own set of issues.

A recent survey from Vixen Labs found that, once again, the top use for voice assistants was to ask a question, with 37 percent doing so regularly, followed by checking the weather (35 percent) and asking the device to play music (33 percent).

Other ways adults are using voice assistants regularly include searching for info on products and services (22 percent), making calls (22 percent), sending messages or emails (18 percent), automating tasks in order to save time (16 percent), controlling integrated household tech (16 percent) and checking personal calendars (15 percent).

Only 11 percent used their smart assistant to make purchases. Last year, eMarketer downgraded its forecast for voice-based shopping, despite the uptick in adoption of voice assistants by consumers.

Other studies indicate, however, that this may be changing. Research by Juniper anticipates that purchases made via voice assistant will reach $19.4 billion by 2023, up from $4.6 billion this year. The researchers expect an increase in shopping as the technology continues to improve and manufacturers add screens to voice-based offerings like smart speakers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a live concert/live audio service increasing Amazon’s voice-assistant adoption? Could such a service be the “Prime Video” of voice control, bringing customers into the ecosystem and then getting them comfortable with shopping, transacting, etc. via voice?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Yes. This is just another way to connect with their customers through Prime and to expand Amazon’s reach further into media."
"Live concerts feel too far off from shopping for consumers to make the transition from using one feature to the other."
"Personally, I’m not sure the juice is worth the squeeze."

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Can Amazon create the Prime Video of audio services?"

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Melissa Minkow

Live concerts feel too far off from shopping for consumers to make the transition from using one feature to the other. Given how much of a hurdle voice adoption has been, it would take something much more differentiated in value, yet still closely related to shopping for this new initiative to succeed as an entry point. After seeing the success of Kanye’s listening parties, I do think there’s a strong desire to experience the energy of concerts again, but we can already watch them on YouTube. This move isn’t ground-breaking enough to capture consumer interest and conversion.

David Weinand

Personally, I’m not sure the juice is worth the squeeze. There is absolutely no substitute for live music in my opinion and using voice to listen to a live show may have some appeal but how much someone would be willing to pay for it is another story.

Suresh Chaganti

This move signals that the hype cycle/novelty aspect is over and the type of content is getting specialized. It is a sign of maturity.

Satellite radio, concerts, and any live content that Amazon can license exclusively will be the differentiator. But the competition in Apple and YouTube is quite formidable.

Jennifer Bartashus

Existing habits can be hard to break, especially for music lovers who may already have libraries, playlists and favorites saved on competing platforms. Adding live music events, while interesting for users, may not lead to increased use of what Amazon ultimately wants, which is orders. Granted, it may make Amazon “stickier” with customers, but this service will compete with a lot of others out there. When it comes to voice-activated orders, however, there is still a lot of hesitancy on the part of consumers to use it heavily for e-commerce. The perceived risk of getting the wrong product or size is still high for many shoppers.

Kai Clarke

Yes. This is just another way to connect with their customers through Prime and to expand Amazon’s reach further into media.

Gene Detroyer

Exactly. No company plays dominoes better than Amazon. Every development is a connection to the previous business and provides a connection to future businesses.

Georganne Bender

I use my Alexa primarily to listen to books on Audible, and I can already use it to play music and podcasts, so what’s new here?

Live concerts are visual, and all about the combined energy of the artist and the crowd. Kanye’s “Donda” listening party wasn’t just about listening, the guy set himself on fire. I just don’t see live concert/live audio service increasing voice-activated sales any time soon.

David Spear

Voice will continue to grow in many ways, but I don’t think live concerts offered by Prime Voice is going to move the needle. In fact I’m a bit surprised; it seems a bit me-too for Amazon. They normally disrupt, not follow. But as I say this, their model is and always has been to test, fail fast and/or win big and move on. Although tiny compared to some of their other market disruptions, it’s another chess piece move on the board.

Gene Detroyer

“Amazon.” What a strange name for a bookseller.
Can this new online service sell books?
Can Amazon sell apparel?
Can Amazon deliver groceries?
Can Amazon become the leader in web services?
Can Amazon operate a grocery chain?
Can Amazon develop a streaming service?
Can amazon become the second largest retailer in the U.S, behind Walmart?
Can Amazon become the largest online retailer in the world?

Can Amazon develop audio events through its popular voice-activated devices and expand its voice activated device base?

Why not?

Lisa Goller

Brilliant move to shape habits and add value to Alexa users.

Starved for the thrill of live entertainment events, more consumers will tune into Amazon to connect with their favorite artists and friends. (Especially if new lockdowns lie ahead.)

This move will make Prime membership and Alexa adoption more attractive with magnetic media for the masses.

Kathleen Fischer

I’m not sure there is a big enough draw for this type of event to make a difference – live concerts just aren’t as interesting if you aren’t there in person!

Dave Bruno

I suspect how they price/monetize this new service will have a huge impact on adoption. I don’t love what they have done monetizing Wondery podcasts, and I am pretty sure I am not alone in my indignation when content from Amazon is not included with my ever-escalating Prime fees (and just watch my anger rise if they start charging me $9.95 for Whole Foods deliveries!). I think they will need lots of trial and error to find the right content/monetization formula before Alexa adoption gets out of the fringes.

Shep Hyken

Audio is the perfect extension of video. We can watch replays of concerts, so why not listen? That’s nothing new. Think iTunes, Spotify and others in the industry. Live streaming of concerts isn’t new either. Adding it to Prime is another reason to be a member. In the music industry, the way many make their living is through live performance. I’m not sure how it is going to be set up, but this might be financially beneficial for the artist.

Mohamed Amer, PhD

I view this announcement by Amazon as another step to increase the perceived value of being a Prime member while increasing the integration of Alexa into their daily activities and entertainment.

Amazon isn’t out to replace in-person live event experiences but to dissuade their Prime members from sharing their time with competing platforms. The end goal for Amazon is to provide all that consumers need technologically to conduct their lives at work or play without ever leaving the company’s ecosystem. The company’s solutions need not be perfect or elegant but must reduce enough friction, so the decision is automatic. Amazon becomes life’s default setting.

Ananda Chakravarty

The development is another media channel delivered over the internet. Moreover, the service is effectively a broadcast service rather than interactive, e.g. Clubhouse. Hence, limited ability to expand voice assistant adoption.

Alexa has been stagnant for 2-3 years and voice shopping hasn’t taken off as hoped. Maybe a slight bump — initially — but not predicting successes for voice assistant tech based on this. Think radio.

Prime is already saturated in the states and we’ll begin to see stratification of Prime — sort of like Disney+ and Disney+ Premium — so Amazon can grow wallet share.

"Yes. This is just another way to connect with their customers through Prime and to expand Amazon’s reach further into media."
"Live concerts feel too far off from shopping for consumers to make the transition from using one feature to the other."
"Personally, I’m not sure the juice is worth the squeeze."

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