Music Business

Amazon Amp is Clubhouse + music

After months of rumors and speculation, Amazon has released Amp, a Clubhouse competitor built for sharing and discussing music.

A guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix.

The current global pandemic forced the evolution of social media in a way few other events could. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like helped, but several new apps also rose to popularity. People needed to feel connected, and these emerging platforms made it possible to achieve that connection in new and exciting ways. The most notable of these is Clubhouse, which makes it no surprise to learn the biggest names in tech are now rushing to share their version of the immensely popular app.

Amazon Amp

Today, March 9, Amazon launched Amp, a Clubhouse competitor with music licensing deals. 

Anyone who signs up will be able to host their own live show, complete with the ability to stream “tens of millions of licensed songs” from the big three record labels and “a long list” of indies, Amazon says. The goal is to turn any user into a radio DJ who can program a playlist, talk to listeners, and chat with call-in guests.

Critically, hosts and listeners won’t need to subscribe to any particular service to tune in — anyone can listen in to full-length songs as long as they sign up for Amp, which is free.

As The Verge points out, Amazon is positioning this as more of a radio-style service than a live chat service (there’s even a five-person cap on callers right now), which is probably for the best. Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces already have a big presence in the live audio space, and Facebook is taking a crack at it, too. But none of them have the music licensing agreements in place that Amazon does, and so those services have focused far more on conversations between hosts and guests. Amazon has a chance to let hosts do something very different here, giving everyone a shot at being something like a college radio DJ.

Amazon is hoping to boost early signups by having a slew of celebrities appear on AMP. Nicki Minaj, Pusha T, Tinashe, Travis Barker, Lil Yachty, and Big Boi are among the artists who’ll be streaming on Amp. Amazon hasn’t said when they’ll be on just yet, though. There also won’t be monetization incentives for (non-celebrity) hosts at launch, though Amp spokesperson Rebecca Silverstein tells The Verge that Amazon hopes to add features that incentivize creators in the future.

So, what’s really happening here?

Radio is evolving. Whether or not Amazon is intentionally trying to reinvent radio, that is precisely what the company may achieve with Amp. If creators embrace the platform, and listeners find creators they like, there is no limit to the amount of influence Amp could have on the larger music conversation. It’s entirely possible to imagine a world where people look forward to a creator’s weekly top 10 countdown or similar product. All that remains to be seen is whether or not people are willing to embrace yet another social media platform.

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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