music charts

Amazon launches its music streaming app in India, with a focus on regional languages

The service will be free for Amazon Prime members.

Beats of jazz music filled the room and Alexa was instructed to reveal the name of the song at a press event in Mumbai on Wednesday. “A String of Pearls by the Glen Miller orchestra,” Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant promptly replied, as the music continued in the background.

Amazon India launched its music streaming platform Amazon Prime Music on Wednesday, joining a crowded space shared by apps like Saavn, Apple Music and Google Play Music. The ad-free service is available exclusively to Amazon Prime members, at no additional cost, and platforms such as Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Echo. Amazon Prime is a paid service that gives subscribers speedy delivery options on the internet giant’s e-commerce portal as well as access to its video, and now, music streaming platforms.

The service promises millions of songs in more than 10 languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and Punjabi, which can be streamed online or downloaded for offline use. A key focus of the app will be its wide range options in regional languages. “Part of this journey was to break down India into micro markets and treat them with exactly the same detailing that you would do with Hindi or English,” Sahas Malhotra, Director of Amazon Music India, told The streaming service can be voice controlled by Alexa, which the company claims will give users an intuitive experience.

“It is not at all about the number,” Malhotra said at the event. “What is important is can we serve you the music that you like to listen to. There are going to be additions to this constantly. If a customer for example tells us that he wants to listen to that rare recording of Kumar Gandharva from 1950s of raag Yaman Kalyan, he will go out and will get it.”

Apart from various genres, the service will also have a mood category, which playlists such as Happy Music, Workout Music and Travel Music. Its catalogue includes music from Indian and international labels including Sony, Warner, Universal, T-Series and Saregama. “The real challenge was to understand the customers and their pain points, when they are on their music streaming services,” Malhotra said.

Amazon Prime Music was launched in the United States of America in June 2014. The version that it brings to India is much improved, Malhotra assured.

“We spent a lot of time around the globe building up stations and playlists, taking the best of those and bringing them to India,” added Sean McMullan, the Director of International Expansion, Amazon Music, at the event. “We have moved from the first days of streaming with your mobile phones with ear buds in your ears, where the music is just you and your bubble, to now voice bringing music to home, becoming communal again.”

Amazon Prime Music.
Amazon Prime Music.
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A special shade of blue inspired these musicians to create a musical piece

Thanks to an interesting neurological condition called synesthesia.

On certain forums on the Internet, heated discussions revolve around the colour of number 9 or the sound of strawberry cupcake. And most forum members mount a passionate defence of their points of view on these topics. These posts provide insight into a lesser known, but well-documented, sensory condition called synesthesia - simply described as the cross wiring of the senses.

Synesthetes can ‘see’ music, ‘taste’ paintings, ‘hear’ emotions...and experience other sensory combinations based on their type. If this seems confusing, just pay some attention to our everyday language. It’s riddled with synesthesia-like metaphors - ‘to go green with envy’, ‘to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth’, ‘loud colours’, ‘sweet smells’ and so on.

Synesthesia is a deeply individual experience for those who have it and differs from person to person. About 80 different types of synesthesia have been discovered so far. Some synesthetes even have multiple types, making their inner experience far richer than most can imagine.

Most synesthetes vehemently maintain that they don’t consider their synesthesia to be problem that needs to be fixed. Indeed, synesthesia isn’t classified as a disorder, but only a neurological condition - one that scientists say may even confer cognitive benefits, chief among them being a heightened sense of creativity.

Pop culture has celebrated synesthetic minds for centuries. Synesthetic musicians, writers, artists and even scientists have produced a body of work that still inspires. Indeed, synesthetes often gravitate towards the arts. Eduardo is a Canadian violinist who has synesthesia. He’s, in fact, so obsessed with it that he even went on to do a doctoral thesis on the subject. Eduardo has also authored a children’s book meant to encourage latent creativity, and synesthesia, in children.

Litsa, a British violinist, sees splashes of paint when she hears music. For her, the note G is green; she can’t separate the two. She considers synesthesia to be a fundamental part of her vocation. Samara echoes the sentiment. A talented cellist from London, Samara can’t quite quantify the effect of synesthesia on her music, for she has never known a life without it. Like most synesthetes, the discovery of synesthesia for Samara was really the realisation that other people didn’t experience the world the way she did.

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You can watch Eduardo, Litsa and Samara play the entire Sound of NEXA Blue composition in the video below.


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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.