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Nicki Minaj, Travis Barker & More Help Launch Amazon’s New Social Radio App

The Amp platform will be geared towards everyday creators but also host shows by music stars including Pusha T and Tinashe.

On Tuesday (March 8), Amazon launched the public beta of Amp, a new live radio platform that allows users to host their own shows by streaming music from a catalog of tens of millions of licensed songs, the company tells Billboard.

The free platform will allow U.S.-based users to create playlists of licensed music from all three major labels – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group – as well as independent music companies including Beggars Group, Believe, CD Baby and PIAS, among many others. Just like a traditional radio DJ, creators will have the ability to provide commentary and invite callers to join their programs in real-time.

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Though designed primarily for “everyday creators,” says Amp vp John Ciancutti, at launch Amp will feature shows from a slew of high-profile artists, including Nicki Minaj, who is bringing her radio show, Queen Radio (previously on Apple Music), to the platform. Others slated to host shows on Amp include artists Pusha T, Tinashe, Travis Barker, Lil Yachty, Lindsey Stirling and Big Boi; personalities Tefi Pessoa and Nikita Dragun; radio DJs Zach Sang, Kat Corbett, Christian James Hand and Guy Raz; and writers from the music and culture magazine The FADER.

On sign-up, Amp listeners can add tags, genres and other criteria to help personalize their experience on the platform, which will surface shows most aligned with their interests. Listeners can also “heart” a show while listening, follow creators and opt to receive notifications for upcoming shows.

On the creator side, hosts have the ability to pre-plan shows by building out playlists and scheduling future shows while exerting total control over the flow of the music and the conversation, including by enabling and disabling the call-in function. After the conclusion of the show, hosts are shown stats about their broadcast, including the total number of listeners and “hearts” received.

“What we’re focused on is really taking the best of traditional radio…[and] build an experience around that that simply wasn’t possible before the internet,” says Ciancutti, who arrived at Amazon after working in engineering roles at companies including Netflix, Facebook, Google and Coursera. The appeal for users in our highly curated age, he adds, is to “find exactly the experience” they want, as opposed to being limited to the stations on the radio dial.

Users of Amp will be subject to the platform’s community guidelines, which include rules against “threatening, violent or abusive behavior of any kind”; “language (intentional or otherwise) directed at another person or group based on, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, origin, sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation”; “harassment, derogatory language and bullying”; promoting or soliciting illegal activity; and misinformation, including “denial of human tragedy events.”

Once a creator or listener is flagged, an operations team can enact an “escalating set of repercussions,” says Ciancutti, including by removing a show entirely.

Going forward, planned additions to Amp include Alexa integrations, social sharing and new search and discovery features, as well as a full rollout in the U.S. later this year.

To receive an access code to the limited beta, users — who must have a free Amazon account to use as their login — can either download the app from the U.S. iOS App Store and sign up for the waitlist or subscribe to the Amp newsletter. The platform’s social accounts on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok (@onamp_) will also be regularly dropping access codes to join. Creators on Amp will also receive access codes to share with their existing followers.