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Amazon Prime Music arrives in the UK

By | Published on Tuesday 28 July 2015

Amazon Prime Music

There has been lots of debate this year about the music industry needing to develop a mid-market streaming service, with less content and/or functionality and a lower price point than Spotify et al, yet somehow more attractive than the freemium channels. But arguably such a service has been available in the US since June last year in the form of Amazon Prime Music. And now it’s going live here in the UK.

As previously reported, the Amazon streaming service is made available to subscribers to the firm’s Prime service, who already enjoy video-on-demand, free delivery and other benefits from being in the online retailer’s club. Users have access to a smaller library of music than with the Spotifys of this world, and without all the latest releases, though the argument is that for more casual music consumers, that’s sufficient. And users can always access their MP3s through the platform’s app, so can get the handful of new releases they want to play by paying a little extra through Amazon’s existing music store.

In the UK, there will be about a million tracks at launch, and in the region of 500 curated playlists to choose from. This is available under the existing £79 a year Prime subscription, which obviously also includes all the other gubbins, with music really a side service rather than the core proposition. As a result, Amazon Prime Music isn’t really competing with Spotify and Apple Music etc, instead aiming at a different demographic. Though it could help further escalate the slide in download sales, especially of catalogue tracks.

Confirming the launch, Amazon UK’s Head Of Music, Paul Firth, told the BBC that the way people are consuming music is evolving, and, with all the hype around Apple Music, consumer awareness of streaming is at an all time high. Amazon, he thinks, can now take streaming “to the masses”, not least by just adding it in to the existing Prime service. He added: “The best music streaming service is the one you already have”.

Licensing deals are seemingly in place with both majors and indies for the new service. Obviously what those deals look like in terms of royalties and revenue is not known, but payments will be considerably lower than with the music-only platforms.

Amazon, of course, offers scale, and will argue that while income per user will be much lower, there can be many, many more users this way, and users who wouldn’t otherwise sign up to a Spotify-type service. Rights owners, let alone artists and songwriters, may or may not agree.