Amazon Music Launches First True Podcasts Feature

Amazon Music
Photo Credit: Amazon Music

Last year, Amazon Music added podcasts to its platform, and today it’s releasing its first feature dedicated to them. Starting today, the service will roll out automatically created, synchronized transcripts on iOS and Android in the United States. This means that the transcripts will match the audio you’re listening to, and you’ll be able to navigate around them to skip to certain parts of the audio. The transcripts within the app are interactive and may be viewed full-screen or on top of the album cover.

For the time being, the transcripts are only available for select Amazon Music and Wondery shows, as well as partner programs such as This American Life and Crime Junkie who have collaborated with Amazon on the feature. (American Public Media, Audiochuck, Cadence13, The New York Times, Stitcher, and TED are among the third-party launch partners.) According to Kintan Brahmbhatt, director of podcasts at Amazon Music, more partners’ shows will receive transcripts in the future. Amazon wants to be “one of the most creator-friendly, most podcaster-friendly services out there,” he says, which is why the team is being so hands-on with partners.

Advertisements will not be transcribed; instead, the transcription will say “audio not transcribed” over such breaks. In general, Brahmbhatt says the main goal for this launch was for people to be able to browse a podcast based on the textual form, similar to how they can scroll through a video.

“You’re listening to an interview and think to yourself, ‘Oh yeah, they brought up a good point.’ “I could have saved it, but I simply want to go back to that area again,” he says. “It really allows customers to move back and forth and use that as a navigation tool rather than just read along.”

Amazon Music has evolved into a music and podcast app that is distinct from Audible, which has a different payment strategy but also includes podcasts. Amazon Music has been chasing a number of exclusive program partnerships, the most notable of which being a contract with SmartLess for allegedly $60 to $80 million that offered the service a weeklong exclusivity window. Amazon recently purchased Art19, a hosting and monetization business, as well as Wondery, a podcast network with its own subscription podcast app, Wondery Plus.

In comparison to Amazon’s competitors, Spotify has yet to broadly deploy transcripts, limiting them to a few originals and exclusives. Automatically generated transcripts are available on The Bill Simmons Podcast, but not on The Joe Rogan Experience. You can’t tap on a word or phrase like you can with Amazon Music’s solution since Spotify’s transcripts are navigated in chunks. Although full transcripts aren’t available natively on Apple Podcasts, program makers can transcribe their shows and post the written version in their show notes.

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