Taking aim at Spotify, Google, and Rdio, Amazon announced today that they will now offer an unlimited, ad-free, and on-demand music streaming service as part of the benefits conferred to Prime members.
This is a bold move, but not entirely unexpected. What was not necessarily foreseen was that this new streaming service would become part of Prime, which certainly begins to explain why Amazon increased the price from $79 to $99 a few months ago.
Unlike Amazon Prime Video, there is a concerted effort with Amazon Prime Music to be as cross-platform as possible. In addition to Amazon’s branded devices like the Kindle Fire and Fire TV, support will be offered on these platforms as well:
- Select BMW, Ford, and Mini vehicles
- Native PC and Mac apps
- Sonos systems
- Samsung Smart TV
- Web browsers
Clearly, Amazon doesn’t mind if Prime members are streaming music on competing devices and operating systems. This is probably a good move, since they face several entrenched competitors, most notably Spotify, but also Google Play Music All Access, Beats Music, and Xbox Music.
While many Prime members are going to be justifiably intrigued by this service, there is one particularly large caveat. At this point, Amazon claims there are “over a million” songs in their Prime Music library. This pales in comparison to its competitors:
- Spotify – “over 20 million“
- Google Play Music All Access – 22 million
- Rdio – 25 million
- Xbox Music – 30 million
- Beats Music – “over 20 million“
This isn’t to say that the difference between the best and worst streaming service is going to be whether they have 20 million or 30 million, but it’s clear that there’s no way that Prime Music could have 1/20th the selection of its nearest competitor and not have made tremendous compromises. As a Prime member, I decided to look at Prime’s catalog for some of the albums I’ve been listening to regularly on Google Play Music All Access over the past week or so.
- Pop Psychology by Neon Trees – not available
- Shouts and Whispers by Ari Hest – not available
- White Women by Chromeo – not available
- Parachute EP by Matthew Koma – not available
- Hotel Cabana by Naughty Boy – not available
- Paramore by Paramore – present
- Lift Your Spirit by Aloe Blacc – not available
- Clarity by Zedd – not available
I had to stop here because I’d just be expanding my search into recent listens for the sake of finding a match. In case you think I’m BS’ing my recent listens just to make Amazon look bad, here’s a glimpse at my launch screen on Google Play Music that I used to search for matches in Amazon Prime (all the ones in the image that I didn’t list also are unavailable for Prime streaming):
Perhaps my taste in music is just one of a few that is underrepresented on Prime Music and yours will be: please let us know what you think of it!
For now, this is still an intriguing move, but Amazon will need to bolster their catalog in a big way to win over many converts. To their credit, they have geared their marketing towards pre-selected playlists, which makes sense given the selection limitation. If you choose their playlists for listening, you’re less likely to notice what’s missing. Prime members that are interested in having their music curated for them might enjoy Prime Music, then.
If you are not yet a Prime member and are interested in this service or Amazon’s very solid video streaming service or the complimentary 2-day shipping benefit, you can sign up for a 30-day trial here. Please be aware that if you forget to cancel your trial, they will charge you for the year subscription (an acquaintance was able to get a refund on this, though). Prime Music will not be available for Amazon Student or Amazon Mom free trials, but it will be available to those who pay the Student and Mom discounted rates.