Will Consumers Be Talking To Alexa In The Car?

The radio industry is already facing increased competition on the platform it has owned for so many decades, but what happens when consumers are able to seamlessly talk to Amazon’s Alexa in their cars, and easily get their music and entertainment, without touching anything, just like they do in their homes? That’s where Director of Amazon Music Ryan Redington says things are heading. Redington was a keynote speaker at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville last week.

While Redington raised the question about his device in automobiles he did say there is still some work to do. “It’s very early for us. We don’t have a clear line of sight to it. The pipe into the car becomes a big challenge when you are a wifi-enabled device. I think that needs to get sorted out by the automobile manufacturers. I think over time voice becomes a big part of the car but at this time we don’t have any specific plans.”

Redington entered what could have been a hostile environment, because his product is another new high-tech toy vying for the ears of the your listeners. But he had some very positive news about radio that he shared with the audience. Redington said when it comes to new music, radio is such a large promotional vehicle for a streaming service. “When consumers hear a song on the radio that makes them want to listen to it on a streaming service.”

Redington also gave out some of the cool technical details behind the Echo device. He said it has seven microphones at the top of the unit so the device can comprehend what the person speaking is saying to it from the microphone that is the closest to the speaker. Amazon spent years developing the product based on three key technical points: voice recognition, natural language understanding, and text to speech — so it sounds like you are talking to a friend not a computer.

On the music side, if you are an Amazon Prime member you get about one million songs for free. For a monthly fee you get unlimited music. We asked Redington how local radio stations could be called up as easy as ordering a pizza on the Echo. Right now listeners would have to call up either iTunes or iHeartRadio and ask for their local station, which is obviously not quite as easy as saying, “Alexa play 1010WINS in New York” and having it start immediately.

We also asked Redington if the goal was to make money with their streaming music service why offer consumers Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio as well. “Our goal is for on-demand streaming service that customers want to pay money for and listen to on demand. We have built the best voice music service in the world so we are happy that other services are on there. We also want to focus on when they are using Amazon music it’s a great experience