The Voice of Music Streaming

With the momentum behind hands-free music streaming on smart speakers, brands like Pandora and Spotify are elevating their voice strategies through custom assistants tailored to their apps and users. Voice Mode, Pandora’s mobile voice assistant capability, was introduced in 2019 for listeners to control their music with commands. Now this week, Spotify is officially rolling out its voice assistant within its app, along with developing a voice-activated hardware device for the car. As these two platforms’ assistants evolve, not only are advanced music platform interaction and recommendations made possible, but advertising and emotional sentiment capabilities are on the horizon. As a result, we see voice tech becoming more than just a tool to choose your favorite song with a simple command, but a way to enable personalized experiences, changing the way people use streaming services.

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Hey Spotify

Spotify introduced its in-app voice command, “Hey Spotify,” that allows users to choose songs, stations, and playlists as well as play, pause, and skip tracks. However, the voice command is limited to the app and only works when listeners have the app open. The company started testing the wake word one year ago, but its official release to users signifies more upcoming voice developments such as the ‘Car Thing,’ a custom voice assistant music device dedicated to the car. The new wake word and car hardware are only small pieces of Spotify’s nascent voice ecosystem, and we expect to see more hands-free capabilities soon. More on The Verge

Discord Joins the Club

Discord is taking on Clubhouse with its own audio channels. The company is already known for being the voice chat platform of choice for many, especially gamers. With the new feature ‘Stage Channels’, users can participate in more formal voice chats with speakers and hosts. Similar to Clubhouse, they can also moderate the conversation. Discord joins a growing group of companies, including LinkedIn and Slack, who have started testing their own social audio capabilities. This surplus of social audio features provides ample opportunities for brands to develop their own offerings or participate in conversations. It’s only a matter of time before voice AI and assistants enter these discussions too. More on TechCrunch

The Indian Government’s Newest Employee

The Indian government is building a voice assistant for its Umang mobile app that will help answer citizens’ questions on services including passports, driving licenses, blood bank information, and more. Conversational AI company Senseforth was chosen to build the multilingual mobile app assistant, and the assistant will also be integrated into the government’s IVR system. As a growing voice market with high levels of voice adoption, India is a ripe country for new voice advancements. The release of a voice assistant for a government app is further reinforcing the use of the tech by the country’s population. More on Voicebot.ai

Emerging Tech Stories

  • Alexa Worldwide. Amazon is exploring expanding Alexa Voice Service, the initiative that allows companies to build Alexa-enabled devices, to South Korea and the UAE
  • Nirvana’s New Song. The organization Over the Bridge used Google AI to analyze songs by Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and more to create “new” songs by them.
  • Braingate. Scientists have successfully tested a brain computer interface that allows people with paralysis to wirelessly type on a computer.

Stats Don’t Lie

60% of marketers believe voice assistants are important from a marketing perspective. (data via Voicebot.ai)

270% increase in voice search in India. (data via GroupM)

Envisioning a New Shiftmate for Retail and Service Employees

Service workers in retail, hospitality, and restaurants face some of the most challenging conditions for employees – needing to navigate fast-paced tasks while ensuring top-notch customer service. We see Voice technology as a major opportunity to assist and optimize these employees’ days. From improving customer experience and training team members to alleviating administrative tasks, voice-first assistance is a strong fit to add value in the retail and service space.

Read more here.