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Amazon unveils its new streaming service with mid-price options

By | Published on Wednesday 12 October 2016

Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon has launched its full catalogue on-demand streaming service in the US and, as expected, it includes a cheaper option locked to the firm’s Echo speaker.

Amazon already offers limited catalogue on-demand streaming to members of its Prime scheme in some countries of course, but with Amazon Music UnLimited it will be offering a similar sized catalogue of tracks as competitors like Spotify and Apple Music. A standard subscription to the new set-up will cost the same as with those rivals, so $9.99 a month in the US, though there are other options too.

For starters, Prime customers will be able to sign up for full catalogue streaming for just $7.99 a month. Meanwhile consumers happy to only stream via an Amazon Echo speaker can access the new streaming platform for just $3.99 a month.

As much previously reported, the need to offer a better range of streaming services – rather than just ad-funded or $9.99 – has been a big talking point in the music community for some time now. Amazon isn’t the first to dabble with lower prices contingent on less functionality, though with access to a mass mainstream audience through its mail-order business it could have more success.

Though whether the cheaper Echo-tied subscription will find a new customer base not interested in spending $120 a year on streams – and happy to rely on radio or free streaming when on the move – remains to be seen. Amazon will be hoping that it can build on the surprise success of its proprietary ‘smart speaker’ device with the new music service.

Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music, is quoted by Reuters as saying: “The first phase of growth [in music streaming] was driven almost entirely by smartphones. We believe pretty strongly that the next phase of growth in streaming is going to come from the home”.

On the range of options Amazon will now offer potential streamers, he added: “We’re moving music away from a one-size-fits-all approach. We are the ones who have been pushing this the hardest”.

The music industry knows that it needs to offer lower-price streaming to take that side of the business truly mainstream, but at the same time it doesn’t want to stop full-on music fans signing up to the $10 a month services that have been behind recent growth in the recorded music market. Which is an interesting balancing act to perform, and Amazon is now going to test whether such a balance can be achieved.