Amazon is reportedly looking to create a new live audio feature similar to Clubhouse, Spotify Greenspace, Facebook Live Audio, Twitter Spaces, or Discord’s Stage Channel. While it obviously will not be the first, Amazon would offer something the others don’t – control of Alexa smart speakers that many people would likely use to interact with the feature. 

Amazon Music is leading the development of the new feature according to Axios, which says the ecommerce company is “investing heavily” to roll out its live audio feature. It apparently sees it as a way to expand the types of content it can offer. The report says Amazon Music is offering to pay podcast networks, celebrities, record labels, and musicians to use the feature to create live programming, including conversation with podcast listeners, fans, and live music concert events. Amazon also sees the feature as a way to create talk radio-style content leveraging Alexa speakers, although music and events are seen as the primary focus for now.

Several live audio services have sprouted up during the past year and a half as tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter have seen it as a way to create interactive features. Spotify also jumped into the space by acquiring the Locker Room app for $68.8 million earlier this year and relaunching it as Spotify Greenroom. This week one of the biggest sports podcasts – The Fantasy Footballers – announced it will host a live show on Spotify Greenroom every Wednesday during the football season.

Similar to what it has done in video, Amazon has continued to move beyond being just the creator of the hardware that people listen on, to focus on what audio programming they are consuming. Nowhere has that been more clear than in podcasting. Amazon bought the podcast studio Wondery last year for a reported $300 million as it brought podcast content onto the Amazon Music app. Axios says Amazon is also looking to invest in localized podcast content, like news and sports. 

Clubhouse Adds Spatial Audio

As Amazon builds, Clubhouse is tinkering. The company this week added spatial audio to its service. Similar to surround sound in the movie theater, it is designed to make listeners feel like they are immersed in the conversation or room they’re listening to by making the speakers sound like they’re spaced throughout the room. The feature will initially be available to iOS users with the latest version of the app with the Android version set to come next.

For creators, Clubhouse says spatial audio opens up more opportunities to get creative and experiment with the power of audio. “Imagine a ghost story where you can hear the evil spirit move around the haunted house or even whisper in your ear,” it says in the announcement.

To create the spatial audio experience, the Clubhouse software first assigns a specific spatial position to each speaker in a room, taking care to evenly distribute speakers for maximum intelligibility. It then applies some additional audio processing for each incoming audio stream to make the audio for that speaker seem to the listener that it is coming from the specified position. 

“Your brain is an amazing instrument that processes cues like distance, frequency, vibration to understand where a sound is coming from,” the company says.