Amazon may soon stream live performances to Echo speakers

The live audio tool would not be a Clubhouse competitor but rather focus on broadcasting concerts and other live events to Amazon Music subscribers.

A general view of an Amazon Echo smart speaker. Amazon's Alexa is set to answer people's health quer...
Andrew Matthews - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Amazon is reportedly investing in a new live audio product for concerts and other performances. The service would not be a competitor to social audio app Clubhouse, as broadcasts would be one-way — which might be a good thing if they’re more professionally done, rather than the rambling and chaotic public chats that define Clubhouse and similar services. Amazon is reportedly in talks with major record labels for live events with artists.

Axios first reported on the new effort, which is meant to supply more content for Amazon Music and its Echo line of smart speakers.

Retention — It was once thought that Amazon’s smart speakers would be used by consumers to order goods from the website — like more toilet paper when they’re about to run out. But that hasn’t happened, as buying things through voice commands is clumsy (shocker). Instead, analysts say the popularity of Amazon’s Echo speakers has juiced adoption of Amazon Music, which includes millions of songs that are free for Prime subscribers and could keep them in Amazon’s ecosystem. Additionally the company’s Music Unlimited service, which costs $7.99 for Prime subscribers, has been largely overlooked but is showing faster growth than other services, which has been attributed to the Echo speakers. Just like Jeff Bezos has said, Prime Video helps sell more shoes. So too will audio, Amazon hopes.

Even though Amazon is focusing on live music for now, it is also considering hosting conversations by podcasters or celebrities, according to Axios, and someday even talk radio programs. Terrestrial radio stubbornly hasn’t died, and grabbing some of that listening time could be big for Amazon. The company last year bought podcast studio Wondery for an estimated $300 million.

Live audio — Social audio services like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as people seek out intimate ways to connect with others while they’re physically isolated. It remains to be seen whether people will continue using these services over time, however. There will likely be a lull as people begin to return to some level of normalcy and have less time to tune into long, often disorganized discussions. But the companies all hope that their services will become a daily habit that could be another way to monetize attention — because that’s what this is all about, of course.