When Marshmello and Halsey wanted to tease their new song, “Be Kind,” at the end of April, they enlisted the help of the biggest TikTok star, Charli D’Amelio, to do so. On Wednesday, the pair employed another creative marketing initiative by launching “the first-ever musical experience” for Amazon’s voice-activated Echo products.
From May 27th to June 2nd, users can ask their Echo devices, “Alexa, what’s Marshmello’s [or Halsey’s] thought of the day?” to get a peek into the celebrities’ minds, according to representatives from Halsey’s label, Capitol Records.
But — coincidentally or not — this Halsey-Marshmello Alexa feature is premiering on the same day that two other tech platforms, Facebook and Instagram, are dropping new features stemming from the music industry.
Instagram announced Wednesday that users can now create effects that “respond” to music. Using the Spark AR Studio app, anyone can come up with augmented-reality effects — in the form of photo and video filters — that operate in sync with music. In theory, this could give Instagram more weight as a music-discovery destination. (Last month, for instance, a Snapchat filter assisted a song to rise up the charts.)
Only a matter of minutes separated the news of Instagram’s savvy augmented-reality effects with news of a music-related venture from Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. Facebook’s research-and-development team, the NPE Group, designed an app called Collab for making collaborative music videos. With Collab, users are able to fuse together parts of uploaded videos and create content for original music and mash-ups. Currently, though, it’s only available in beta and via invite.
While this trio of new music features isn’t explicitly aimed at younger users, the tech-savvy Gen Z demographic — which already dominates music-heavy TikTok — seems a likely audience for all three of them. In consumer surveys last year, some 73% of Generation Z’ers said they would make a purchase based on a social media recommendation; Generation Z’ers also spend an average of three hours per day on social media. And in 2019, Business Insider also reported that 65% of their surveyed Gen Z members check Instagram on a daily basis, preferring the platform over other options. If users are willing to buy a product because Instagram said so, it seems likely that they’d be willing to download or stream a song too.
Amid the ongoing quarantine, the projects also offer new ways for tech giants to collaborate with the music industry — which has been hit particularly hard by the loss of live events and is eager to adapt and innovate.
Amazon’s quirky take on the “Thought of the Day” marketing play, for one, is the latest in a series of music-tech projects out of the company. Two weeks ago, another Capitol Records star, Katy Perry, intentionally “leaked” the release date of her forthcoming album by allowing Alexa to correctly respond to fans who asked the smart speaker when Perry’s new project was coming. Furthermore, Amazon recently made a job listing for a software engineering position in its music department with a compellingly vague description: “Come join us as we make history by launching exciting new projects in the coming year.” Amazon representatives did not reply to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.