Today, Amazon is launching a new subscription music service, Amazon Music Unlimited starting at $3.99 per month for tens of millions of songs at less than half the cost of Apple Music and Spotify Premium.
Amazon is making a splash in the market by leveraging Prime users and its proprietary hardware reach. If you are an Amazon Prime member, the service is $7.99 per month. If you own an Amazon Echo device the fee is $3.99 and limited to that device. If you neither own an Echo device nor have a Prime account, then you are paying the industry standard $9.99.
For the avid music streamer, the Echo option may look odd as it is limited to specific hardware. Amazon, however is betting that it will attract a new category who aren’t interested in the traditional $9.99 option. Instead it is positioned as as add-on for Echo users, going beyond the 2 million tracks available in the existing Amazon Prime Music service that comes with the $99/year Amazon Prime subscription. It sounds a little confusing, but Amazon is hopeful.
“It allows us to really expand the paid streaming music market,” said Ryan Redington, director of Amazon Music in an interview with Geekwire. “Can we get more customers in by providing an entry price point tied to a specific, single Echo device?”
The Echo offering will also take advantage of the device’s growing AI capabilities including voice commands like “play the new Drake song.” Rather than simply sort by release date, Amazon’s AI considers music charts and radio plays in order to serve up the right song. Additionally you can choose music by using other variables like era, mood, genre and even lyrics–just say a few lyrics and Alexa will search a database to find the song.
“We think the next big wave of growing the streaming market is the home,” said Redington. “The first wave was driven by the phone and that’s really important. It still will be really important but as we look at growing customers in the streaming market, we think that the home is the next frontier for that. That’s why we’ve spent so much time on voice and getting that right.”
Amazon’s Music App will also get an update. Firstly it will work on Fire devices, iOS, Android, Web, PC and Mac as always, but will add a few new features that currently out-do the competition. Amazon Music Unlimited’s offline mode will cache not only desired playlists, but also recommendations so listeners can explore new music without a connection. Another interesting feature, albeit odd is “Side-by-Sides” which is essentially the musician’s commentary alongside the tracks. Initial artists include Norah Jones, One Republic and Chainsmokers.
Echo users can start a trial of the $3.99 Amazon Music Unlimited subscription by saying “Alexa, start my Music Unlimited free trial.”