Amazon Music Offers Free Podcasts, Develops New Programs

Amazon Music now offers 70,000+ free podcasts and is also developing new podcast programming, making it the latest streaming music service to dive into the genre. Although the field is dominated by Apple Podcasts and Spotify, Amazon executives believe its offering will be competitive because it will be able to bring in new podcast listeners, especially via its Echo home speakers. Amazon’s free podcasts are available for all of its Music tiers and debuted first in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “Amazon Music is the third-largest music service by subscriptions, behind Spotify and Apple Music, and has drawn an older listening base across the U.S., in part through the help of its Prime subscription service and Echo speakers.” Similar to Spotify, “Amazon Music will collect podcast revenue only on ads that run on its original and exclusive content.”

“Podcasting is still at the early stages of mainstream adoption,” said Amazon Music vice president Steve Boom. “Our entry will grow the pie for everybody and introduce new groups of listeners just like we do with music streaming.” When a user asks Alexa to play a podcast, Amazon Music’s catalog will be the default choice if the podcast can be found there. Users will also be able to transition seamlessly between “mobile-phone-app, in-car and smart-speaker listening … picking up a podcast where [it] left off.”

At 70,000 podcasts, Amazon Music’s library is “significantly smaller than Apple’s over 1 million podcasts or Spotify’s 1.5 million,” but its podcast service is launching with favorites, including “Crime Junkie,” “What A Day,” “Radiolab,” “Revisionist History,” “Planet Money” and “Stuff You Should Know.” In early 2021, Amazon will exclusively distribute “Disgraceland,” and debut “new original, exclusive shows hosted by DJ Khaled, Becky G, Will Smith and Dan Patrick.”

The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that, “U.S. ad revenue from podcasts rose an estimated 42 percent to $678.7 million last year …. and is projected to rise to $863.4 million this year and exceed $1 billion by 2021.”

Variety reports that Amazon is also “encouraging podcasters to distribute their podcasts on Amazon Music (and Audible) to reach the over 55 million customers who listen to Amazon Music.” It is telling creators that the podcasts will stream directly from their hosting provider “so all your metrics will be unaffected and if you are running advertising through a dynamic ad insertion system, things will work the same as on other podcasting services.”

Amazon’s Boom noted that, “podcasts, paired with our recent partnership with Twitch to bring live streaming into the app, makes Amazon Music a premiere destination for creators.”

Eleven-year Amazon veteran Kintan Brahmbhatt is director of Amazon’s podcast programming.