Ed Sheeran’s/ is the most-requested album on Amazon’s voice-activated speakers, the company has revealed.
It’s scarcely surprising: The record was the UK’s best-seller last year, changing more than 2.5 million copies.
Hit records by George Ezra, Adele and Dua Lipa also feature in the Top 50, which was released to coincide with National Album Day.
But a closer look at Alexa’s most-popular albums uncovers behaviour that may concern the music industry.
When people use voice commands to stream music, they consistently ask for songs they already know, with new artists largely frozen out of the picture.
For instance, Ed Sheeran accounts for three of the top five most-requested records; while there are multiple entries in the Top 50 for superstars like Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Little Mix, and Katy Perry.
Just eight of Alexa’s top 50 albums were released this year, and only two of those were debuts – Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy and Anne-Marie’s Speak Your Mind.
By contrast, the Official Charts Company says 16 of this year’s best-selling albums are new releases, with three debuts in the Top 40.
The Alexa chart highlights a known problem with voice-activated listening – that there’s a significant barrier to discovering new music.
“If you’re looking at Spotify on your phone or your computer a lot of stuff is presented to you, so you might go, ‘Oh, so-and-so’s got a new album out, I’ll dedicate that a go'” says Mark Sutherland, editor of Music Week.
“But if all the decision-making is put upon you, and you have to tell Alexa what to choose, then unavoidably you’re likely to go for tried-and-trusted, more familiar music.”