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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Details: The effort, which is being led by Amazon's Music division, includes paying podcast networks, musicians and celebrities to use the feature for live conversations, shows and events.

  • The idea is that users could access live concerts or performances through their Amazon Music accounts. The company is in touch with major record labels about live audio events with artists.
  • The feature is being built to focus on live music, but the tech giant is also eyeing talk radio programs and podcasts as an extension to that effort, according to a source familiar with the plans.
  • Axios has previously reported that Amazon is looking to invest in localized podcast content, like news and sports. The company bought podcast subscription company Wondery for a reported value of $300 million last year.
  • Amazon also plans to integrate live audio into its live video service Twitch, according to two sources.

The big picture: Live audio services exploded during the pandemic, and have since seen big investments from Silicon Valley.

  • Clubhouse said Sunday that users create over 700,000 live audio rooms each day, up from 300,000 in May.
  • Spotify earlier this year acquired Betty Labs, an app developer, and a live audio app developed by Betty Labs called Locker Room. It has since launched Greenroom, a live social audio app focused on talk, music and sports, and has launched a livestream feature for concerts.
  • Twitter this week rolled out ticketed live audio events for its Spaces feature.
  • Facebook earlier this year launched a slew of audio products, including a live audio app that could rival Clubhouse called Live Audio Rooms.
  • Discord this year launched Stage Channel, a feature for audio-only chat rooms.

Yes, but: Sources familiar with the company's thinking say that Amazon isn't looking to build an audio social network like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces, but rather a digital radio-like tool for live-streaming performances and conversations.

  • While that will likely include podcasts and talk radio programs, the company is focused mostly on music and events for now.

Our thought bubble: The opportunity for disruption in live radio is paramount, but tech companies have a long way to go if they want to recreate radio for mobile.

  • Terrestrial radio reaches more people on a weekly basis than any other type of medium in the U.S. — largely thanks to cars (per Nielsen). But, as Axios has previously noted, the radio business model has collapsed in the streaming era.
  • Radio revenues dropped nearly 25% last year during the pandemic.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

3 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.