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May 20, 2022

Amazon targets Calm, Headspace audience with a wellness podcast

Kim Bolton discusses Amazon

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Amazon.com Inc. is continuing to build its wellness podcast offerings with the release of an exclusive, meditation-oriented series called “Become.”

Produced with Salt, the audio company behind comedian Dave Chappelle’s podcast “The Midnight Miracle,” the show will be released three times a week and guide listeners through relaxation techniques like breath work, meditation and intention setting, according to company executives. It’ll be available only through Amazon Music, Alexa-enabled devices and the Wondery+ app.

“Become” adds to a growing body of podcasts and short-form audio from tech companies. They include subjects like fitness and wellness. Each episode of 15 minutes or less takes a Peloton-like approach—the four initial coaches switch out regularly, meaning listeners will probably find one they especially like and stick with them.

Salt Co-founder Jamie Schefman calls the show, which has been in production since November, an “audio vitamin.” The music is custom-made and episodes are mixed in binaural, which makes listeners wearing headphones feel like they’re in the room with their hosts. The episodes are ad free, according to Nick Panama, Salt’s chief executive officer and a co-founder.

“Become” is the latest addition to Amazon’s wellness podcast offerings. Wondery, its podcast network, produced “Meditations for the Day” and “Imagined Sleep” in 2020, and Amazon delivered “Built to Thrive” this year. The latter offers short episodes on wellness topics from British doctor Rangan Chatterjee.

The Salt team wanted to build a show that fits into people’s lifestyles, Panama said, focusing more on the “renewed self” than on winding down. “Become” could grow into a community with live events, workshops and a video content component, he said.

Marshall Lewy, chief content officer at Wondery, said in an email that “people are looking for ways to improve their mental and physical health,” given the stress of recent years, and that audio content can help fill the void. The company’s competitors, like Headspace, have grown quickly during the pandemic. Last year, Headspace said it had 70 million users. Calm was valued at US$2 billion after a fundraising round in December 2020.