Last month Amazon coyly revealed
that their number of Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers doubled over the last six months. Now the company didn’t give an exact number of subscribers to their music only service, but Steve Boom, Amazon’s Music VP, told Billboard that it equals around “tens of millions.” The last reported number was around 16 million
in 2016 and so my imprecise ballpark estimate is somewhere over 20 million and probably under 40 million. Certainly not too bad for what is essentially an accessory to Amazon’s social tax on physical goods, also known as Amazon Prime, or a few extra bucks every month if one already owns an Alexa device.
Even though Amazon was shy about providing specific data, I’ve been waiting for those headlines about the “surprise” rise of Amazon in the music stream space for a while. Only, because while in western markets Spotify and Apple Music continue to fight on mobile devices, voice is Amazon’s newly established domain. That’s why it’s not surprising that Amazon’s impact on the music industry is in space, which didn’t even exist five years ago.
This newsletter is focused on music streaming and whatever tendrils out of that, but I wanted to give a little background on voice assistants and admit a little bias before getting too deep.
The only voice assistance I’ve used is Siri on my iPhone, because I don’t own any Amazon product or a Google Home. Unsurprisingly I’m the kind of person that finds the impreciseness of voice recognition frustrating enough that I’d rather just never use the product than experience that layer of friction.
Clearly based on how people are using these devices for music, basic to-do lists, and other household tasks I’m beginning to appear as an outlier. One last bit of throat clearing is that personally I do think these devices on the whole are giant security risks and willfully allowing a corporation to record all of one’s most personal moments is fucking ridiculous, but I digress.
Amazon initially introduced the Amazon Echo powered by its voice assistant Alexa to Amazon Prime users on November 6th, 2014. The following year it would go on sale to the general public and by late fall 2016 when Google introduced their own voice assisted products (Google Home), sales for Amazon were estimated to be over 10 million. While specific sales numbers of all these devices are a bit iffy, reports said 25 million were sold in 2017.
Earlier this year Apple released their own smart speaker with the Homepod and though still early in its life, sales aren’t looking too good
. Still, the rapid growth in this market along with the slow stagnation of smartphone sales shows in the next decade a lot of potential movement in this space.