Amazon today announced Unlimited Music, its new on-demand music streaming service. Key differentiators include what Amazon calls the service’s “breakthrough” pricing, and Alexa integration.
Like rival services—market leaders include Spotify and Apple Music—Amazon Unlimited Music offers unlimited access to a cloud-hosted music collection for a monthly subscription fee. It’s compatible with Android and iOS-based mobile devices, Windows PCs and Macs, the web, and other devices. (It’s available on Sonos and Fire TV as well, for example.) And Amazon claims a collection size, vaguely, of “tens of millions.” (Most rival services are now in the 30-40 million range, I believe.)
So far, this is exactly what one would expect. But Amazon offers some interesting advantages over rival services.
The first is pricing: While anyone can subscribe to Amazon Unlimited Music for $10 per month, the standard rate found everywhere, Prime subscribers will save $2 per month, or $40 per year if they pay annually. That is, Prime subscribers will pay an addition $8 per month—or $80 per year—for Amazon Unlimited Music.
But you can save even more if you have a single Amazon Echo or other Alexa-based device. That is, if you don’t mind limiting Amazon Unlimited Music access to just one Alexa device, you can use a special “for Echo” version of the service for just $4 per month. That said, if you decide you want to keep using the service and access it on multiple devices, including Fire TV, iOS, Android, web, PC, Mac, Sonos and more, you’ll need to pay another $4 per month like other Prime subscribers.
Naturally, Amazon’s Echo and other Alexa devices are—wait for it—primed to use the new service.
“If you want a sense of the future of voice-controlled music, go ahead and ask Alexa for a free Music Unlimited trial, and play around on your Echo,” Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says in a canned statement. “If you don’t know the name of a song but know a few lyrics, if you want to hear songs from a specific decade, or even if you’re looking for music to match your mood, just ask.”
Amazon’s press release says you can ask Echo such things as “Alexa, play Sia,” “Alexa, play Green Day’s new song,” “Alexa, play the song that goes, ‘I was doing just fine before I met you'” (where Alexa will play, ‘Closer” by The Chainsmokers), and so on to start music playback. You can also trigger “side-by-side” playlists (“Alexa, play Side-by-Side with OneRepublic”) to play an artist and related artists.
While breaking into the streaming music business in a serious way will still prove difficult for Amazon, I think, this is a smart offering. I may just have to check it out.