Amazon just released the limited-access beta version of Amp, a new app that will give you a way to DJ your own live radio shows. Creators can use a catalog of tens of millions of licensed songs from Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and a long list of independent music companies, such as Beggars Group, Believe, CD Baby, and PIAS, with more being added every day. Creators can also engage with their community in real time—no subscription, additional hardware, or editing needed.
“Radio has always been about music and culture,” said John Ciancutti, vice president of Amp. “But imagine if you were inventing the medium for the first time today. You’d combine what people love about radio—spontaneous talk, new music discovery, diverse personalities, and broad programming—with all that's made possible by today’s technology. You’d make it so anybody with a phone, a voice, and a love for music could make their own show. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. Amp makes it possible for you to grab the mic and run the airwaves. We are creating a new version of radio that will have an infinite dial of shows.”
Amp is building a home where anyone can create live shows alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. As part of the limited beta, Amp is announcing a slate of upcoming shows from some of the biggest names in music. The undisputed reigning queen of hip-hop, Nicki Minaj, will soon bring the highly anticipated return of her radio show, Queen Radio, to Amp, in addition to upcoming shows from Pusha T, singer-songwriter Tinashe, electronic artist and violinist Lindsey Stirling, Travis Barker, Lil Yachty, and Big Boi; well-known personalities Tefi Pessoa and Nikita Dragun; popular radio hosts Zach Sang, Kat Corbett, Christian James Hand, and Guy Raz; and writers from music and culture publication The FADER.
“By bringing these incredible personalities into the beta, creators can experience Amp in a way that drives the feedback needed to build the app together, ahead of a public launch later this year,” said Ciancutti.
Amp is completely free to use—it gives creators access to a library of tens of millions of songs they can use when creating their shows, and the ability to invite live callers to join their programs. Amp is creating built-in discovery and notifications, so listeners can find and follow creators and upcoming shows. Hosts can take callers, with control over who speaks and when. They can pre-plan and schedule their shows, and listen to songs in real time with their audiences. In the future, Amp plans to add even more—everything from Alexa integrations to social sharing to innovative new search and discovery features that will connect listeners with the creators delivering the content they are looking for on the dial.
We met with Ciancutti ahead of the official beta launch, to learn more about how Amp will work and what makes it unique. Read on for everything you need to know about the limited-access beta of Amp, launching today.
What opportunity is Amp building for creators?
With Amp, we’re building a new way for you to create a live radio show. Amp infuses what listeners love about radio with what’s made possible by today’s technology. People are looking for an evolution in how they discover and share music; Amp is reinventing how fans can go deeper into the experience of live audio, while giving the millions of people creating and sharing playlists today a new way to turn their love of music into live shows.
Why is Amp launching with limited access and only available to those with an access code?
Amp is still in the works. We decided to launch in beta because we believe that in order to serve communities of creators at all levels, we need to be in dialogue with them. We need them using the app and telling us what features they want. This limited-access beta will allow us to partner with passionate early adopters in a diverse community of creators, so we can improve the experience and better serve everyone when the app officially launches.
What challenges does Amp solve for creators?
How would you build your own radio show if there were no satellite towers or recording studios required, no licensing deals to negotiate, and the tools you needed were already on your phone? Amp is bringing music culture and digital music together. A person with their own unique music taste doesn’t have to land a job at a radio station to reach an audience. They just need to launch a show from their phone on Amp and reach anyone. Starting today, people will be able to see the creation of this new live audio experience being built in real time, right in front of their eyes.
From your perspective, how does Amp reimagine radio?
When I was a kid, radio was really different from how it is today. DJs were local to their markets. I used to move back and forth from San Francisco to Miami between parents, and radio sounded completely different in each city. Not the music, but the sound, everything. DJs would play local music and emerging artists, they were kingmakers, and they drove local music culture. I felt a connection to those DJs. Of course, they didn't know who I was; I was just one of their listeners. But with Amp, that relationship can go both ways. I’m excited for Amp to bring that opportunity to listeners. This beta launch allows us to create that opportunity. It’s not easy to build a brand-new community of creators from scratch, which is why we are so excited to have so many big names joining us on this development process.
How do you create a show on Amp?
We are designing Amp to be easy for anyone to use—with everything needed to easily set up a show and go live, built into the app. As a creator, you can host your own show, play hits or deep cuts, talk sports, riff on pop culture, and curate your own playlists with like-minded listeners. The experience and user interface are really intuitive—you can go from launching the app to creating a new show in seconds.
How is Amp different from social audio apps or music streaming services?
Our starting place for Amp is radio, which means the experience centers on the ability to use a fully licensed catalog of music. We think there are infinite opportunities with live audio technology—and what is currently out there has not even scratched the surface. Amp is bringing the cultural experience into live audio, by creating a space for shows that are curated by people.
What support is Amp offering new creators?
The Amp website is where creators and their listeners can get up-to-date information and live support. This includes everything from how to go live and how to optimize your content for Amp, to being notified of upcoming creator programs and how to take part in them. Our team will also be identifying shows to feature and promote across our marketing channels to help our creators find new audiences.
How is Amazon working with artists on Amp?
Artists have really responded to what they can do with Amp. They want to run shows, play new music, and share the songs that have influenced them—they’ve also talked about using Amp as a way to get their fans to start creating, too.
How will Amazon handle violations and protect user safety?
Customer trust and safety has been a priority since day one. When I joined Amazon, there was a small team already working on Amp, and the leader of our Trust and Safety team was one of them. With the beginning of the public beta, we have comprehensive community guidelines that are centered on safety and trust. Listeners and creators can report perceived violations of these guidelines either directly from a show or from the app, and we have a 24/7 moderation team that reviews the reports and takes actions in real time. Protecting listeners and creators has been top-of-mind since the beginning, and we want to make sure we get it right. Here is the bottom line: The app and our moderation team have established an open line of communication with our users, so we can hear about issues and take action when needed.
What are you listening to on the app?
One of my favorite shows on Amp is called CRIOYO Radio. It's run by a creator named Daniel who plays all kinds of Latin music. He runs the show out of New York, but his roots are in Latin America and the Caribbean, so he understands the music incredibly well. I love listening because I learn a lot about the music. I also call in to the show frequently. We talk about the music that he's playing, but we also talk about its origins. We've talked about everything from great food to where I should travel. These conversations have deepened my relationship with him as a creator and have strengthened the sense of community I experience as a listener of the show.
How can you get access to the beta version of Amp and when will it be available to more creators?
People can get access to the beta version by downloading Amp from the U.S. iOS App Store and signing up for the waitlist, or by subscribing to the Amp Newsletter. People can also follow the @onamp_ social accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, where we’ll be regularly dropping codes to join the app.
Do you need an Amazon account to access Amp?
Yes, users must use or create a free Amazon account as their login credentials for Amp.