Even though it has positioned its streaming music service as an alternative to broadcast radio, Amazon is doing its best to mimic the medium with a new on-demand, hosted listening experience dubbed DJ Mode. DJ Mode allows users to access on-demand, personalized versions of three of Amazon Music’s radio stations – Country Heat, Rap Rotation and All Hits.
Amazon Music has recruited Kelly Sutton to voice Country Heat. “Kelly Sutton is an Emmy-winning TV anchor and radio personality who has been deeply involved in country music and the Nashville scene for 20 years and we are thrilled to have her hosting Country Heat Radio in DJ Mode,” Amazon Music Country Music Lead Kelly Rich tells Country Insider. Sutton also hosts the Silverfish Media-syndicated “Y’All Access With Kelly Sutton.”
Country Heat and the other stations feature hosts and audio commentary from artists, along with music facts and trivia from Alexa. Hip-hop personality DJ Letty hosts Rap Rotation while former Seattle radio air talent Karen Wild anchors All Hits. Additional stations will follow the first three offerings. While in DJ Mode, listeners will be able to pause, rewind and skip songs and the audio commentary segments.
“We’re continuing to revolutionize how listeners experience music, and with DJ Mode we’re combining the best of streaming and traditional radio,” VP of Amazon Music Steve Boom said in a release. “With DJ Mode, fans can stream music selected just for them, while enjoying the personality of DJ-hosted radio. We’re also delighted that Billie Eilish is behind our first-ever artist-led DJ Mode experience, which gives fans access to her musical tastes and storytelling, hosted by one of the most innovative artists in the world.”
Sutton brings her own behind-the-scenes stories and perspective to Country Heat. She records song intros and commentary each day for the station, which launched on Thursday.
“Country Heat Radio and our other DJ Mode stations are living, breathing, continually updated experiences that bring context and stories from hosts and artists to new music as it is released,” Rich says.
Sutton began working with the Amazon team during February’s Country Radio Seminar, hosting “Amazon Music Presents: Country Heat” featuring Tim McGraw. That relationship then blossomed into Country Heat Radio.
“It does play on all of the things that I've been able to do over the past 20 years in Nashville,” Sutton says. “Knowing the little stories and tidbits and behind-the-scenes things about songs and artists and being able to drop those in for the listener, it's like this treasure trove of stories I've been holding on to that I get to share in 20 seconds or less.”
Country is consistently one of Amazon Music’s top-performing genres. The service’s share of country streams continues to be more than double the industry average.
“We have an incredible team putting together this experience with the hosts, including genre experts from our editorial and programming teams,” says Rich. “We also collaborate with artists to get great commentary from them.”