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Amazon is building a Clubhouse competitor that turns hosts into DJs

A new app is in the works

Illustration by Alex Castro

Amazon is next on the list of companies getting into the live audio game. The company is building a new app, codenamed “Project Mic,” that gives anyone the ability to make and distribute a live radio show, complete with music, according to a presentation viewed by The Verge. This project’s big goal is to democratize and reinvent the radio. The app will be focused on the US initially.

Listeners will be able to tune in through the app, as well as through Audible, Amazon Music, Twitch, and Alexa-equipped devices. With the Alexa devices, listeners will be able to interact with shows using just their voice. The app experience will also be optimized for the car, playing into Amazon’s idea of trying to reinvent radio. A mockup app image viewed by The Verge depicts a screen listing shows that are currently live; trending topics, like #NBA or #hot100; and featured creators. Users will also be able to search for content by topic, name, or music.

Anyone will be able to pull from Amazon’s music catalog to arrange their program. For launch, the company is planning to recruit celebrity talent along with smaller tastemakers to help launch the app and populate it with content. Although the app is highly music-focused, programming will center on three other areas: pop culture, comedy, and sports.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment for this story. Axios first reported Amazon’s work to create some sort of live audio feature and noted that the company was working with record labels to coordinate live events with artists.

With this app, Amazon joins the likes of Apple, Spotify, and even Sonos, which are looking to program radio-adjacent content. All these companies work with music curators to host shows and try to replicate the radio experience digitally. In Amazon’s case, it might see the benefit of this app as something that can be localized — shows can be catered to where a person lives and they could even receive ads based on that location, too. Plus, with interaction being able to happen through Echo devices, the call-in experience can also be replicated.

Clubhouse popularized the idea of live audio, but it has yet to find a way to allow people to play music from major artists on the app. It also is more focused on being a social network than a place to get all someone’s audio needs met.

Meanwhile, Spotify in particular seems interested in dominating the car and replicating the typical radio use case. The company releases a daily morning show that combines personalized music recommendations with a talk show, called The Get Up, and earlier this month started a waitlist to sell its Bluetooth-equipped Car Thing more widely. Amazon also sells a Bluetooth, Alexa-equipped device for the car, Echo Auto, but notably hasn’t introduced a new version since launch. It also works with car manufacturers to ship vehicles with its Alexa assistant installed, which might help this new app and its programming reach listeners.