Published in News

Amazon re-launches Prime Music at lower price

by on12 October 2016

Tens of millions of songs joining Google Play, Apple Music and Spotify

On Wednesday, internet retail wholesale giant Amazon re-launched its Prime Music on-demand music streaming service into a full-fledged catalogue of tens of millions of songs, with single-user and family plans competitive with offerings from Google, Apple and Spotify.

Prime Music for customers, Music Unlimited for everyone

The company says its current Prime Music service will now be offered side-by-side with a newer Music Unlimited service. The difference is that Prime Music is only available to retail Prime customers, which is available free as part of their subscription, while Music Unlimited is a newer standalone service that will be offered both for Prime customers at a discounted rate and for non-customers at a slightly higher price.

Currently, an Amazon Prime subscription costs $99 per year and the company’s Prime Music service is included with the service. The drawback, however, is that Prime Music only offers 1 to 2 million songs in its library catalogue.

amazon music unlimited catalog description

Image source: Amazon Music Unlimited

Music Unlimited starts at $79 yearly for Prime members, $149 for family plan

This is where Music Unlimited comes into play and will now give users “tens of millions of songs” with a constantly expanding catalogue of new releases, similar to Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music. The company says that standalone service for a single non-Prime customer starts at $9.99 per month, or $99 per year. If Prime customers purchase the plan on a yearly basis, however, the price drops to $79 per year, which translates to $6.58 per month. While the non-customer pricing is in line with music streaming offers from its three competitors, Amazon hopes that it will sell more Prime subscriptions as a means of retaining more streaming customers on its premium music service.

Amazon is also offering a family streaming plan for its Music Unlimited service at $14.99 per month, the same price that Apple Music, Google Music and Spotify subscribers currently pay. The plan is able to serve up to six users at once and will be available sometime before the end of the year.

Echo device plan starts at $3.99 per month

Meanwhile, the company is offering a lower-priced plan for owners of its Echo devices at $3.99 per month. However, the Echo-only plan can only be used on a single device at any given time, and this can be a drawback for users who have purchased multiple Echo devices to scatter around their homes. Interestingly, Amazon actually encourages its customers to do this by offering bulk discounts of $49 and $99 on six and twelve-pack Echo bundles. Of course, the $3.99 plan for the Echo Dot will be limited by the device’s speaker quality, and the alternative is to connect an external speaker setup using either the 3.5mm audio jack or Bluetooth speakers. Users looking for a higher quality music streaming solution for home, are are better off purchasing the higher-priced plan, as it can be used with a Fire TV set-top box connected via HDMI to proper A/V receiver equipment. However, the same can be said for any music service streaming through an Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Roku device, to name a few.

Recommendation engine with Alexa voice-activation focus

Music Unlimited features a custom recommendation engine that offers both algorithm-selected and hand-picked playlists, similar to its competitors. The company has redesigned the apps for iOS, Android, Fire tablets and Fire TV set-top boxes to include more focus on album art and imagery, along with a revised navigation menu and typography. The more notable feature is the service’s close integration with Alexa, the voice-activated AI that can select songs and playlists similar to Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Perhaps a more useful component of Alexa’s voice-command menu system is that it can offer users dual requests at once. For example, if one asks it to “play songs by Guns and Roses from the 1990s,” it will be able to build that particular playlist for easier playback. The service can also attempt to find songs based on lyrics that a user sings out loud, or based on any requested genre, mood or time period.

No exclusives for now, with focus on price

Amazon says that it has not made any plans to launch Music Unlimited exclusive albums or tracks, a strategy that Apple has used many times in the past. For now, the company hopes the introductory Prime member price of $79 per year, or $6.58 per month, will attract more users to its service from its three major competitors, all of which start their plans at $99 per year for single customers and offer equally priced family plans for $14.99 per month, or $149 per year. It will be interesting to see how the market shapes up now that there are four major music streaming services available, and whether or not users will notice any differences in music catalogues, sound quality or playback features in the months ahead.

Last modified on 12 October 2016
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Read more about: