Quick Hits: Discovery via voice, indies at SXSW, and what if Google buys UMG?

Brief news items and worthy reads from around the web:

Voice assistants struggle with discovery: Smart speakers and voice assistants are having a big moment, but there are still some big hurdles before the technology is likely to break into the mainstream. A Bloomberg report gets to one of the issues, which is the ability for developers to create powerful, engaging voice skills that consumers will think to use. Although Amazon Alexa boasts a marketplace with tens of thousands of voice skills, nearly half of smart speaker owners said they had no method of discovering those skills.

The journey for indies: The annual SXSW conference has taken over Austin this week, and some interesting announcements usually emerge around audio. Multiple sessions gathered music industries leaders for discussions of how the career trajectories for independent artists have changed in the wake of creator-first platforms. SoundCloud CEO Kerry Trainor participated in one session, while Merlin U.S. General Manager Jim Mahoney and A2IM Head of Label Relations Patrick Ferrell joined the panel for another.

What if Google buys UMG? Rolling Stone has been actively reporting on the process of Universal Music Group’s search for a potential buyer. Today, the publication explored the possible outcomes of Google/Alphabet acquiring the label. It’s not an unlikely pairing; Google had been a player for a stake of publisher Sony/ATV three years ago. Rolling Stone examines how Google ownership of UMG could impact YouTube and free music streaming.

Anna Washenko