After several months of testing, Amazon is opening up access to Amp, its social audio app. Amp shares some DNA with the likes of Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify Greenroom, but there’s one thing that sets it apart: the option for hosts to become DJs with tens of millions of licensed songs at their fingertips.
“This limited-access beta will allow us to partner with passionate early adopters in a diverse community of creators, so we can improve the experience and better serve everyone when the app officially launches,” Amp vice-president John Ciancutti said.
Amp is only available in the US on iOS for the time being, but an Android app is in the works. Users can download Amp from the App Store and sign up for a waitlist. Access codes will also be shared on Amp’s social accounts.
You’ll need an Amazon account but Amp is free to use. Hosts can bring in callers and will have control over who can speak and when. They’ll be able to schedule shows too.
Amazon has deals with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and independent labels and publishers to use their music. Hosts can play songs at any time during broadcasts, but there are some limits.
They can play up two songs from the same album or three songs from the same artist in any three-hour window. You can’t repeat songs in that timeframe either. You’ll also need at least one listener before you can start playing songs, so don’t expect to use it as a free ad-hoc music streaming app. Shows can’t primarily be focused on taking song requests and you can’t play any songs from outside the Amp library unless you have the right to do so.
Listeners will be able to follow creators and get notifications when they go live. More features are on the way, including Alexa integration and more search and discovery tools. You’ll be able to listen to shows from high-profile hosts including Nicki Minaj, Pusha T, Travis Barker and Big Boi.
Shows aren’t archived, so you’ll only be able to listen live for now. Hosts won’t be able to generate any revenue from the platform directly as things stand, but Amazon plans to add monetization options later.
Amp’s community guidelines prohibit users from promoting self-harm, calling for violence, supporting terrorism and engaging in hate speech. They are prohibited from, among other things, denying mass tragedies (including the Holocaust and 9/11), having slurs in their usernames and profiles, victim blaming and glorifying hate crimes.
Harmful misleading information and disinformation are banned too. “We believe that science and facts matter. That truth is a matter of safety,” Amp’s website reads. Mature content is allowed to an extent, but it needs to be labeled. Amazon has a moderation team that will look into reports, and, if necessary, suspend or ban users.
Creating a successful social app from scratch is no easy feat, even for companies of this size (remember Google+?). Amazon has another pretty successful platform where creators can engage with their communities in Twitch. However, it didn’t create Twitch — it bought the company in 2014. (As an aside, it’d be nice to see Twitch creators getting access to the same library of licensed music for their streams.)
It remains to be seen whether Amp will take off, particularly given that people aren’t staying at home as much as they were when pandemic stay-at-home measures were broadly in place. However, Amp’s mashup of Clubhouse and Turntable.FM with licensed music could be enough to convince people to try it.
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