Refreshed internals, lower price point possible.
Amazon Music Unlimited Launches With $3.99 Echo-Only Subscription Option
Amazon Music Unlimited is distinct from the company's Prime-only music library, which offers access to "over a million songs." By contrast, the new service promises access to "tens of millions" of songs from all the major labels. Prices start at $7.99 per month for Prime members and $9.99 per month for non-members, the latter of which puts it in the same cost bracket as Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, and Tidal's standard price plans. A similar free 30-day trial is also being offered.
In addition, Amazon is offering a separate $3.99 subscription plan for owners of connected speakers from the company's popular Echo range. The plan lets them stream music to Amazon's devices, but only those devices. A $14.99 per month (or $149 per year) family subscription plan for up to six people is currently in the works, and should become live later this year.
Amazon says its library includes music from Sony, Universal, and Warner, as well as hundreds of indie labels, with thousands of curated playlists and personalized stations also accessible via the company's recently revamped mobile app. However, the service enters a crowded market already commanding millions of subscribers, which makes it increasingly difficult for newcomers to differentiate their service. In this respect, Amazon is likely betting on enticing existing Prime subscribers, and perhaps more significantly, those eligible for its Echo-only option, which could prove popular with a user base already familiar with the company's ecosystem.
For example, the Echo-based service plan integrates with the speaker's intelligent assistant Alexa, meaning voice commands can be used to play particular songs and/or playlists based on specific criteria – to play songs from a particular decade, or to match a mood, say. Indeed, Echo owners can sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited simply by asking Alexa to start their free trial.
Amazon is estimated to have sold over 4 million smart speakers so far, and is hoping to sell 10 million by the end of 2017, which could put it on course for a subscription coup. For its own part, Apple is said to be pressing ahead with plans for its own connected smart home device, powered by Siri, which would rival Echo. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine commented on the future of Apple Music, saying that Apple is "building the right hybrid," which will be "technologically and culturally adept" and "have a voice," rather than just be a utility to listen to music.
Amazon Music Unlimited goes live in the U.S. today and is set to debut in the U.K., Germany, and Austria later this year.