Will Amazon's New Music Streaming Service Take Down Spotify and Apple?
At its core, Amazon Music Unlimited is much like other streaming services— complete with a catalogue of "tens of millions" of songs, the ability to create and discover playlists, a recommendation engine to introduce you to new tunes, and an app that allows for easy navigation and offline downloads. But, Amazon is banking on the service's pairing with the Echo speakers and Alexa voice assistant to set it apart from Apple and Spotify. In addition to discounted subscription fees, Echo owners will be able to interact with Alexa to play music.
Music Unlimited is not Amazon's first attempt to enter the music streaming market. Back in 2014, they released Amazon Music as a complimentary perk available for Prime members. But while the free service has expanded to provide members with access to over two million songs, Music Unlimited provides access to "over ten million songs." While this is definitely an improvement, Music Unlimited's library has a ways to go if it's to match the 30 million songs available on both Spotify and Apple Music.
So is a subscription to Music Unlimited worth it? Current Amazon Prime members can subscribe to the service for $8 per month or $80 per year, and people who own one of Amazon's voice-controlled Echo speakers can subscribe for just $4 per month. Even for non-Prime members, the $10 monthly charge matches the monthly fees charged by other streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Though, frustratingly enough, Music Unlimited users will pay the monthly subscription on top of existing Amazon Prime fees.
While Echo owners and Prime members can access Music Unlimited at a lower cost, the subscription comes in addition to upfront costs: a year subscription to Amazon Prime runs for $100 (or for $11 per month), and a first-generation Echo will cost you around $170. There's also the less expensive, more compact Echo Dot, which is expected to be released later this month ($50). Either way, a discounted subscription still comes at a price.
As we've seen with Jay Z's Tidal, entering the already crowded streaming music landscape is not easy — especially against established players like Spotify and Apple Music. It does help that Amazon already has some 54 million Prime members to potentially jump aboard the new service and an estimated 3 million Echo owners as of earlier this year.