Amazon’s New Streaming Service Is Cheaper Than Spotify, But Is It Worth It?

Siri meets music streaming.

As if the on-demand music market wasn’t competitive enough, Amazon has thrown their hat in the ring this week with the launch of their long-rumored streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited.

I know what you’re thinking: who the hell needs another streaming service? And you’re right. But there is one little thing that sets Amazon Music Unlimited apart from Spotify and Apple Music and Tidal (and Pandora and Google Play and SoundCloud Go and… yeah, I lost count).

When paired with an Amazon Echo speaker, Amazon Music Unlimited is the first streaming service to integrate voice commands. So, instead of fiddling around on your phone, you can just say, “Alexa, play the new [rapper who went Platinum with no features] song,” and the track starts immediately. It’s basically Siri with a different name and an equally sharp mind that won’t be caught off guard by curve balls, as hard as you may try.

Alexa can even cue up a song based on lyric snippets. For example, you can say, “Alexa, play that song that goes ‘you know that feeling when you know you finna bone for the first time?’” and, voila, J. Cole’s “Wet Dreamz” is on. Of course, I’m just demonstrating the possibilities of this technology and in no way condone such actions, because uttering those words aloud is embarrassing enough.

Novelties aside, Amazon Music Unlimited isn’t wildly different to its competitors. The service costs $9.99 a month—the same as Spotify Premium, Tidal Premium, and Apple Music—and offers “tens of millions” of songs. There are also the usual algorithmic and hand-made playlists, a recommendations engine, and apps for Android, iOS, Sonos, and desktop.

But where Amazon could really steal a piece of the music streaming pie is through its discounted subscriptions. For existing Prime subscribers, the service is available for $7.99 a month, or $79 a year (on top of the $99-a-year charge for Prime membership). And if you own an Echo device, the monthly cost comes down to just $3.99, although you’ll only be able to enjoy it through your Echo speaker.

Interesting, considering Apple failed to get major labels to agree on a deal that would allow them to charge $8 a month for their streaming service, before conforming to the industry standard $10-a-month model. And with over 60 million Prime subscribers, it’s not like Amazon’s discounted subscriptions are in limited supply.

Then again, Amazon Prime Music has always been aimed at “mainstream music fans for whom just having some good music to listen to is sufficient,” so don’t expect to find Acid Rap or XXX on Music Unlimited. I’ll stick with Audiomack, thanks.


By Andy James. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Amazon



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