Voice control is continuing to both develop in terms of technology and implementation.
The idea of a new operating system completely disrupting the way we operate computers is completely exciting. How cool that artificial intelligence has reached a stage where we can now successfully and efficiently control not only medias, but also tangible real-life objects by our voice!?
The potential for voice control is absolutely huge, it really will change how we interact with computers (meaning all computer devices, not just desktop/laptop varieties!)
It won't be long before stand-by projectors, that can be operated by the likes of Alexa, are used - so that we only see things when we need to (a great potential for saving energy wasted by doing tasks on a screen that can now be done by voice). This will help human eyesight by eliminating the need to stare at screens and will be great for arthritic RSI caused by keyboards or smartphones. We're moving into an augmented reality, and voice control is a big part of that.
But, voice control technologies pose some real threats to the independent music industry that need to be addressed to ensure new independent music is discovered and shared with prospective new fans.
Understandably, the listener is moving more and more towards a 'just play' solution for their music, with algorithms and technologies that detect and execute everything from curation to mood detection and all in between.
Much like with the radio of yesteryear, music consumption will increasingly be about continuity over control. This is great news for discovery but introduces some really scary problems.
Firstly, with budget & industry weight and buy-ins to the technologies that host and play the music, the majors would be able to manipulate the curation in search results to ensure their music is played in response to specific search queries, thus suffocating the independent artists and labels.
Secondly, voice-control adds to the risk of music devaluing to the point it becomes just a supplement to other activities, rather than an enjoyable pleasure in its own right.
Thirdly, if a listener does like a new artist they're introduced to through voice-control, they need to be able to easily escalate that new interest into interaction with the artist so that the enjoyment of listening to the track can be escalated to a long-term 'relationship' between artist and fan.
Voice-control also poses a threat to other new ways people are discovering music. Spotify's Discover Weekly, social playlists etc. will all be less likely to be used, just because of the way search works. It will be uncommon that people ask their devices what friends are listening to or to "play me something I don't know" - because people will often already have some idea of what they are asking for.
It'll be more about "Alexa, play something I can dance to", which will 9/10 be mainstream commercial music, big hits that the streaming platform will know people would want to expect to hear in such a playlist.
So that means that music will have to be very popular before it even reaches the 'c list' levels of streaming. Spotify try and tackle the 'mainstream overpowers all' problem by using something that looks like the following system (taken from this report from BPI):
That alone, in the current streaming climate, is really tough on independent artists and labels when it comes to not being overshadowed by major-label-backed material, but now we're moving into voice-led OS (and speculatively, people will add things to their playlist less) that system just won't work very well for getting new music heard.