Amazon is the latest company to set its sights on the live audio market, following in the footsteps of last year's breakout startup Clubhouse. The new product is a multi-platform app known right now as "Project Mic," according to a new report from The Verge.
The goal, it seems, is to combine various audio and music components from across Amazon's vast ecosystem — including Audible, the Alexa assistant, its Amazon Music platform and Twitch — into a unified service that can distribute live online radio shows. According to documents The Verge has reviewed, Amazon envisions the product as a very radio-centric take on live audio, with licensed music and in-car integrations for listening while you're driving.
That would set it apart from Clubhouse and the many Clubhouse clones, like Twitter Spaces, that have popped up in the last year and a half. Many of those apps model themselves more like a cross between a podcast and a live stream with social media layers on top.
Amazon's approach looks like a more traditional take on radio with a heavy music focus. That puts it more in competition with Spotify, which has been investing heavily in the podcast space of late and modeling many of its shows and in-app features to be more radio-like. Spotify even has a in-car gadget, aptly called Car Thing, designed to replace your radio.
It's not clear why Amazon would invest in the live audio market now; the central narrative around Clubhouse these past few months is that its popularity has waned significantly now that people are spending less time in their homes. But live audio, and radio in particular, is obviously a lucrative and resilient market and it's not going anywhere any time soon. So perhaps Amazon thinks it can come up with the right recipe to bring it back in style in a way maybe Clubhouse can't.