Audio News for September 6, 2016

Amazon Wants to Lower Music Streaming Prices Like It Did Books – Amazon is considering offering it own music streaming subscription service which would only work on their Echo voice-assisted small speaker at only $5 a month instead of the now-industry standard of $10 a month rate. The record labels exchanged their physical CDs for downloads for music-as-a-service, and made less money every time. That is why they blocked Apple Music from doing a sub-$10 streaming plan, which would further eat away at their profits. But perhaps the $5 Echo subscriber would be an entirely new audience that has never paid for music. Amazon refuses to comment, but they want to get more people into their Amazon Prime network at $99 a year, with free shipping.

Voice Control for Smart Speakers & Music Streaming –  In an effort to simplify the lives of consumers, the industry is planning voice control and other connected device capabilities. Sonos will soon have voice control with any Amazon-enabled device, such as the Echo. It has teamed up with Alexa, Spotify and oher music streaming partners to integrate third-party stream services into their connected audio platform. The integration is on the software side. Sylvania’s Smart Lights, which have before relied on a smartphont app. can now be turned on and off by consumers talking to an Alexa-enabled device in their home. The market for smart audio devices will make more than $5 billion by 2020 according to Juniper Research. Half of Sonos owners use Spotify for streaming, and they won’t need a home Wi-Fi to control their speakers.

Lithium Batteries May Wean the World Off Fossil Fuels – according to the CEO of resource exploration firm Lithium X. Lithium ion batteries are already at the heart of almost everything we do. The global demand for lithium – the metal element at the center of most portable energy storage technology – could be set to soar even more. Lithium may well become the new petroleum of the clean energy electric vehicle era. While the prices of oil, gold, iron ore and aluminum have all suffered, lithium is doing well. There are many different stakeholders in favor of the product. Bloomberg just published a paper saying that the falling cost of renewables and batteries would boost the electric vehicle market over the next 20 years. And that would have a huge effect on the wider global economy, which would likely precipitate a huge demand for lithium ion batteries. Almost half the world’s known lithium resources are in salt lakes in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. There is going to be a continued push of all car companies towards electric vehicles. The Lithium CEO calls the lightweight and highly conductive product “the Standard Oil of our generation.”

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