Is Alexa being unfaithful?

Analysis from Steve Ahern

I have been using my Amazon smart speaker all this year.

I set her up so that she knew my preferences.

When I requested a radio station Alexa first went to RadioApp to find the station. If she couldn’t find it, she went to iHeartRadio, then TuneIn and any other source.

If I requested an artist, she usually went to iHeartRadio to find that artist and play a stream of songs selected for that artist.

Last month she began behaving differently.

She began trying to find radio stations from Spotify, and then began suggesting podcasts. If she couldn’t find a station or an artist she didn’t go to another source, she just told me to get a Spotify or Alexa account.

I don’t have a paid Spotify account, although I often use Spotify Free.

I wondered why there was a change. Was Alexa being unfaithful?

After a bit of investigation I have found out about her infidelity.

Spotify has done a deal with Alexa so that now Spotify Free is available on smart speakers. It seems like part of the deal was to override other providers and deliver first via Spotify. A Spotify PR release says:

Spotify Free users will be able to hear their favorite music on even more smart speakers, including from Amazon, Sonos, and Bose.

That’s right—free users in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. will, for the first time, be able to ask Alexa to play Today’s Top Hits, their Discover Weekly, or a custom-made playlist on their Amazon Echo.

So there’s the answer.

I have tested Spotify free, but I’m not always happy with it. Its artist selection playlists do not seem as good to me as the iHeart selections. But all the same, it is certainly convenient to have another audio supplier option on the smart speaker.

The biggest annoyance was that the search priorities that I had established before ( RadioApp> iHeartRadio> TuneIn) were usurped by Spotify. If I wanted to get content from one of those services I had to always include the source in my request, such as, “Alexa, from RadioApp, play 2CH, or Alexa, from iHeartRadio, play Van Morrison.”

It has been a few weeks since Alexa began her affair with Spotify, but she may be regretting it. She seems to be learning my preferences again and is now more often using RadioApp and iHeart without being asked.

But the lingering question is will Alexa remain faithful, or will she stray again?




About the Author

Steve is the founding editor of this website.

He is a former broadcaster, programmer, senior executive and trainer who now runs his own company Ahern Media & Training Pty Ltd.

He is a regular writer and speaker about trends in media. More info here.


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