Amazon Music just did the streaming equivalent of North Korea sending a missile into the Sea of Japan.
While Spotify and Apple Music get all the attention, Amazon Music has been the dark horse, creeping up from its third-place position to grab more and more market share, largely thanks to all the music it plays through its Alexa-powered devices.
Until this week, Amazon Prime subscribers had free access to about two million songs. Now they can listen to all 100 million tracks in the library. That’s included with all Amazon Prime deals, which run $14.99 a month or $139 per year. That’s a little more expensive than Spotify and Apple Music, but it also includes the perks of free delivery on Amazon orders, Prime Video streaming TV, photo storage, and a few other things.
There’s more, too. A large selection of podcasts (including my Ongoing History of New Music) is now available ad-free.
Up until now, Amazon has been focused on selling commercials. Now they’re apparently listening to consumers, according to Amazon VP Steve Boom. That interview with Boom is long, so here’s a relevant quote:
“In terms of recorded music, if you’re paying a flat fee per month, the two ways that we can put more money in the hands of musicians are to have more subscribers — so that the total amount of money available is bigger — or to have a higher price. Those are the two levers you have.
“When I talk to my team about [streaming] 2.0, it’s like, ‘We need to think about a streaming service as not just being a catalog of recorded music, but being a host of services that connect artists and fans together’. You’ve seen some of the things we’re doing there; we have invested heavily in livestreaming and in merch. So yes, there is a fixed pool of money in recorded music, but the pool keeps growing, right? It’s fixed per customer, but when you get into areas like merch, there are unlimited amounts that people are willing to spend to connect with their favourite artist and to represent their fandom.”
One more thing about Amazon’s music: This offer applies only to regular resolution tracks. It costs more to upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited.
Amazon Music sure has come a long way from the days when it sold MP3 downloads back in 2012. How will Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and the rest of them respond? We’ll see.
UPDATE: This offering isn’t as generous as it may first seem. Yes, Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to access 100 million songs, but it’ll be mostly limited to shuffle-play mode based on requests for artists, albums, or themed playlists. For complete on-demand access, you’ll have to pay $9.99 a month in addition your Prime subscription. Big difference.