The secret was already out: Amazon had podcasting in its sights. The question was when Amazon Music would start offering spoken-word audio content. That has now been answered as Amazon Music on Wednesday began serving up podcasts in the U.S., UK, Germany and Japan. The streaming service launched with a mix of established podcasts and new, original shows produced exclusively for Amazon Music. Podcasts will be available across all tiers of service at no additional cost.
The launch began with more than 70,000 podcasts, including many from an array of publishers including iHeartMedia, NPR, Wondery, Audiochuck, Vox, Cadence13, PodcastOne, NBC Audio, Pushkin Industries, and The Skimm, among others. Amazon says it already has millions of episodes from top shows, with the count growing every day.
For many publishers, Amazon Music offers a new distribution channel – and one that has a strong connection to smart speakers, which today represent only about five percent of podcast listening, according to Edison Research. Now when an Amazon Echo owner asks Alexa to play a podcast, the default will be to pull up the show from Amazon Music. Like other apps – most notably Apple Podcasts – it will allow users to begin listening to a podcast on one device and then seamlessly pick up on another device with no additional sign-in or device linking needed.
“We’re thrilled to offer customers a convenient podcast listening experience that fits their lifestyle,” said Kintan Brahmbhatt, Director of Podcasts for Amazon Music. “Never before has listening to podcasts on the move, in the car, or at home been so simple. Our customers will be able to utilize the voice functionality they know and love with music, to now enjoy a superior podcast experience and uncover a brand-new selection of favorites,” he said in a statement.
Roster Of Original Podcasts
At least one podcast is pinning its future to Amazon Music. The music-meets-true-crime series Disgraceland has been widely available, but it will become an exclusive to Amazon beginning next February with the release of a new season.
“Partnering with Amazon Music allows me to really give my listeners what they’ve always asked for: more Disgraceland content,” said Jake Brennan, host of Disgraceland and cofounder at Double Elvis Productions. “Through this partnership with Amazon Music, we’re enhancing the future of the show for fans, expanding our output of content by moving to an ‘always on’ weekly schedule, which will translate to more episodes for listeners on a more consistent basis.”
Amazon Music has also teamed up with several creators, including DJ Khaled, Becky G, Will Smith and Dan Patrick to produce exclusive originals.
Developed by Amazon Music and the Springhill Company, DJ Khaled’s The First One will feature the music producer interviewing artists about the hits that made them iconic and eventually legendary. “I’m recording my podcast with the greatest musicians of all time, and with some of my best friends who also happen to be the most iconic artists on the planet,” said DJ Khaled. “We’ll talk about fame, fortune, life and success. These stories are here to motivate you because everybody starts from somewhere, from the ordinary to extraordinary.”
Becky G is creating a multimedia podcast featuring audio and a corresponding video broadcast on Amazon Music’s Twitch Channel. Titled En la Sala, the weekly show features the singer as she calls on some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, her family and friends, to discuss Latinx pride, women empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, relationships, politics and sports. Each episode will be dedicated to a nonprofit organization related to the theme of the week, with a charitable donation attached to each episode to pay it forward to organizations directly impacting the Latinx community. “In quarantine, with so much time to consider the world around us, it felt like the perfect opportunity to open a new line of communication and pay it forward,” said Becky G.
Longtime sports radio broadcaster Dan Patrick is creating a podcast that will feature interviews with top Hollywood stars. That Scene with Dan Patrick will be produced in collaboration with IMDb. The new podcast will dissect memorable scenes from some of the biggest films and television series.
“We all have moments in life that take us back to a specific time or feeling in our lives,” said Patrick. “For some it’s a familiar smell, a taste, or a song. For me and so many, it’s a scene in a movie that made us laugh, made us cry, frightened us, inspired us, or simply provided escape. This podcast is about those moments.”
Amazon said it is also working on a new podcast project from Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Westbrook Audio, in a co-production with sister Audible, which is also expanding into podcasting.
“Our customers’ listening habits are constantly evolving, and we know they’re looking to us to provide them with a rich experience rooted in music and entertainment,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “Podcasts, paired with our recent partnership with Twitch to bring live streaming into the app, makes Amazon Music a premiere destination for creators.”