Amazon Music says it doesn’t want to become a record label

Amazon Music Vice President Steve Boom shot down the idea that Amazon’s music arm would become its own record label at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017. It’s a question that he gets a lot, Boom told TechCrunch’s Josh Constine, largely in part because of Amazon Studios, the company’s television and film production arm.

But Amazon views the video and music industries very differently, Boom said, citing the differences between the way content gets created, consumed, distributed, marketed and so on. He also seems to respect the role of record labels.

“The labels really play an important part in the world, and it’s not really in our interest to displace them,” Boom said.

At Amazon, Boom said music is at the core of two central strategies: Prime and Alexa. By putting music into Prime and Alexa, he said, Amazon has been able to introduce people into streaming music who were not into it before, and then move them a bit upstream to its paid service.

Amazon launched its full-fledged, on-demand streaming music service last October. Amazon Music Unlimited is available in three tiers: Echo, individual and family, and can cost as little as $3.99 and as much as $7.99, which are cheaper options than what the likes of Spotify and Apple music offer.

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With the integration of Amazon Music into the Echo, people are able to experience communal listening, versus the personal listening environment that smartphones created.

“In the smartphone era, we think of music as moving out of the home and living room,” Boom said. “With voice, it’s moving it back in.”

But there’s a ton of competition in the music streaming space. There’s Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora and Soundcloud. Boom wouldn’t directly comment on any specific competitors, but emphasized that we’re still in the early days of streaming music, as the industry just recently crossed over 100 million paying subscribers, according to the latest Global Music Industry Report.

“It’s literally just a drop in the bucket,” Boom said. “So we think there’s a ton of growth but what we do see is pretty clearly already happening. For music streaming services focused on discovery and playback, it is consolidating around a relatively small number of global platforms and I think that trend is happening and I would expect it to continue to happen.”

He went on to say that while he does think there is room for radio-based services, like Pandora, Boom says on-demand music is “no doubt” the better experience.

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