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Amazon Joins Tech Giants Using Radio To Steal Their Audience

Amazon MusicOnce again a streaming service is bulking up by taking advantage of broadcast radio. After a couple of years of radio stations promoting how to listen to their stations on smart speakers, Amazon is now pulling harder to keep listeners within their eco-system.

Amazon Music began offering “an ad-supported selection of top playlists and thousands of stations for free” to users of their Echo smart speakers a few months ago and now after giving those listeners a taste, is opening up those streams to users of the Amazon Music app on any device or the web. Amazon is also using those streams to entice its new-found audience to become paid subscribers with an option to subscribe to their paid-for tier at 99 cents for the first four months.

Just like TuneIn before it and Apple Music adding radio streams to boost Siri’s offering’s, once again broadcast radio content (and marketing) is being used by tech companies to drive listeners away from broadcast radio. And the radio industry sees nothing wrong with it.

Instead of leading the pack into streaming and keeping control of audio delivery in any form, only a handful like iHeartMedia and a playing catch-up Entercom, have done so. No big operator even controls its own streaming servers instead paying third party companies to do so. For the longest time we had companies trying to force technology to roll-over backwards compatibility by adding or activating FM chips to phones rather than work to improve the streaming capabilities of the radio industry as a whole.

Want to get your stream available to the widest audience? Gotta pay one company to host the stream and potentially develop your your app or station skill. Otherwise that’s a second company to pay. Then gotta submit to TuneIn, agree to iHeart’s barter rates for inclusion, or be a big enough operator to get a corporate deal with Radio.com. And that’s just to have the ability to then let Amazon, Google, or Apple market to steal your listeners away. What a tremendous business model for radio operators.

Is it too late to flip the model? If broadcast radio keeps eliminating the few differences remaining between these services (locally relevant content and talent), technology gains are eventually going to allow Amazon and others to do so using AI and not even having local talent. And then broadcasters will have nothing unique to offer.

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