Amazon has officially entered the on-demand streaming game. The giant online marketplace has unveiled its new Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service with a three-tiered pricing plan.
Amazon boasts a catalog of tens of millions of songs and "thousands of hand-curated playlists."
The new service will be an added feature for those who are already an Amazon Prime member. It starts at $9.99 for those who just want to subscribe to the music service, $79 per year or $7.99 per month for Amazon Prime or $3.99 if you exclusively use it on your Amazon Echo device.
Amazon launched its music service two years ago and this is the continuation of that. It will have to compete with the major players like Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL and soon Pandora in the United States, before it looks to expand globally.
The echo allows users to ask for specific moods or songs and it chooses it for you. Amazon Music Unlimited also comes with a "side by side" feature where artists such as OneRepublic, The Chainsmokers, Norah Jones, Lindsey Sterling and others comment on the songs.
A listener can ask Alexa to play a song based on a lyric as well. If you ask Alexa to "play the new Green Day song," it will play the latest single that is on radio, "Bang Bang," not always the newest song.
As a long time Prime member this is a nice added feature to the quick, free shipping and the growing catalog of movie and TV options.
Quickly browsing through the new offerings, it is clear Amazon does not have the data that Spotify, Apple Music or even TIDAL does to make recommendations to listeners. They also don't have enough listeners to update on the very latest tracks in playlists, which should change soon with more people signing up.
Streaming is in an interesting time where no companies are turning a profit yet, but still getting large valuations. The record industry relies on its revenues to stay afloat, so they need each other, despite the public and private battles that ensue over royalty payouts. Competition is good for the consumers, so we will see if Amazon Music Unlimited can help shape the marketplace for the better.