That's What Friends Are For

Amazon adds brilliant song sharing feature to Alexa

A definitive 80’s tune, re-recorded in 1985 by Dionne Warwick “and friends” (including Elton John on piano and Stevie Wonder on harmonica) to raise money for AIDS research.

Without a lot of fanfare, Amazon has released a simple, jaw-dropping new feature for Alexa earlier this month.

You can now ask Alexa to share a song with someone.

What does that mean, exactly, to share a song with someone?

I tried it out earlier today. What happens is when a song is actively playing on your Alexa device or through the Alexa app - regardless of whether through Amazon Music, Spotify, whatever - you can then say “Alexa, share this song with Suzy Q,” and Alexa will then send a notification to Suzy Q to play the song, on Suzy Q’s typical music service of choice, even if different from the one you used to play the song first.

Whoever you’re trying to share a song with needs to be someone you’ve corresponded with previously through Alexa, or someone in your Alexa contacts, in order to work properly. But as long as that’s the case, it works really well and with relative ease.

Voice technology and conversational AI is crying out for new use cases, and specifically, use cases that lend themselves to repeated, consistent, habit-forming use.

In order to be this type of experience, you have to make it easier to speak something than to type it or handle it on a mobile device.

This feature from Alexa accomplishes that. Saying “Alexa, share this song” and then having it go to another person is vastly quicker than whatever the second-quickest way to do this is.

There’s a useful playbook here for anyone else creating a voice-first experience: take something simple that works well, and only then look to layer a social element to it.

According to Amazon, this is “just the beginning” of this type of social sharing via Alexa. You can believe that: this is exactly the type of next-level feature that, if left unchecked, will be the cause of market share returning to Amazon’s ecosystem that has leaked to Google over the last 24 months.

Project Voice: Coast to Coast continues next week, as I’ll be traveling to the following cities. I’d love to meet you, connect, and learn more about what you’re doing.

Boston, MA - February 22 - Hamilton Restaurant and Bar

New York City, NY - February 23 - Royale

Newark, NJ - February 24 - The Fox and Falcon

Philadelphia, PA - February 25 - Frankford Hall

Washington, DC - February 26 - The Royal

Enjoy the This Week In Voice VIP playlist on Spotify here.