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Low-price Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service looks to take on Spotify and Apple Music

 Low-price Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service looks to take on Spotify and Apple Music
Amazon has announced the arrival of Amazon Music Unlimited, a new music streaming service. (Jacob Thomas)

Online retail giant Amazon unveiled on Wednesday the introduction of Amazon Music Unlimited, a full-catalog streaming service designed to compete in an already packed marketplace led by Spotify and Apple Music.

The service will be offered through a tiered pricing system that undercuts its competition, in the process further disrupting the market.

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Specifically, said Amazon, subscribers of its Amazon Prime program can get the full service for $7.99 per month (or $79 per year), and Prime members who own the popular Echo hands-free speaker unit can subscribe for $3.99 per month.

At that latter price, the service will deliver the same millions of songs as its competition, but will do so for $6 a month less than the industry-standard $9.99 charged by Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and others.

Amazon will offer its service at that same $9.99-per-month price for non-Prime members.

The news comes during what promises to be an active period for streaming platforms. In addition to Amazon's announcement, online radio giant Pandora, which counts about 78 million users for its free platform, has confirmed that it will begin offering an on-demand service before the end of 2016.

In addition, speculation rose over the summer that German streaming site Soundcloud was seeking suitors, and that Jay-Z's Tidal service was in talks with Apple. No deals have been struck, however, and the companies have declined to confirm negotiations.

Amazon's initiative isn't its first foray into music streaming. Prime subscribers already have access to a limited selection of approximately 2 million songs.

But the company is betting that it can draw subscribers by tempting them with an Echo, and have designed Amazon Music Unlimited to communicate seamlessly with that device.

For example, rather than searching the millions of songs, users can ask Echo's Alexa voice control system to play a playlist based on mood or genre. Through voice commands, It can recommend new songs, find and play tracks based on lyrics and respond to general commands such as, "play music."

Those who expect the device to then pull out a banjo to play "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," however, still have a few years to wait.

There's a lot of terrible music out there. For tips on the stuff that's not, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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