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Machine Learning and Music Streaming Align on Alexa

Having been one of the lucky ones to win an Echo at the Capital One House activation at SXSW last year, I’ve called on Alexa to start my morning every day since. “Alexa, play BBC Radio 6 Music,” and she complies, pulling up the British station on TuneIn. Amazon’s Alexa made a lot of waves (no pun intended) at this year’s CES as the voice assistant expanded its support offerings, from cars and refrigerators, to Lenovo’s similar device to the Echo.


Amazon Music Unlimited and Alexa became the hot topic of conversation between Billboard, Jeff Bezos, and the vice president for Amazon Music, Steve Boom. Coming in at number 12 on Billboard’s 2017 Power 100 list, the two execs discussed how Amazon Music Unlimited has some differentiating, cloud-based, machine learning architecture planned for its service that, when combined with the Echo, enables a user to create unique playlists, “Alexa, shuffle British Grime from last year,” or by your mood, “Alexa, play sad shoegazer rock from the ‘90s,” all through voice activation versus manually searching for and setting up a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

“If you’re asking people to pay for streaming music in a world where there are a lot of free alternatives, then you need to build a service that they want to use every day,” Boom told Billboard. “And that’s one of the beauties of this device. What we are seeing is that people are listening to more music than ever: we see from data, and we hear anecdotally from customers.”


Just WON an Amazon Echo from @capitalone!! The app now works with Alexa. #SXSW #SXSW2016 #capitalonehouse

A photo posted by Kim Owens (@kaffeinebuzz) on

Even without this unique feature, Billboard reported Amazon’s Prime Music subscribers increased by 50 percent in 2016, which is quite a feat considering it only has a fraction of the catalog offerings of its competitors.

One needs to factor in that Amazon’s ecommerce and myriad of content offerings (books, newspapers, magazines, gaming, streaming video), along with its Prime service, give the company a powerful market advantage. Alexa’s voice recognition technology is also superior to Apple’s Siri, which STILL can’t do a simple map or contacts search most of the time, making you want to throw your iPhone out your car window. That woman needs to get a hearing aid.


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