October 12, 2016 Last Updated 7:22 am

Amazon launches new three-tiered music streaming service: Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon Echo owners will only be charged $3.99 per month to join the service, while Prime members will get a slightly discounted rate as an added benefit for being a member

The online retailer Amazon today unveiled their long expected music streaming service. The service will have three price levels: only only $3.99 per month for owners of the Amazon Echo; $7.99 per month, or $79.99 per year for Amazon Prime Members; and $9.99 per month for everyone else.

Generally speaking, Amazon has created services in order to boost online sales of products and media, while Apple has been seen as wanting the services to boost hardware sales. This new program from Amazon does both – pushes hardware sales (Echo), and also services (Prime) which are designed to boost product sales.


“(W)e believe quite strongly that there’s a new phase of growth coming for the music industry, and that’s connected smart devices. We wanted to really double down on our investment in voice and extend Amazon’s lead in the home,” Steve Boom, ‎VP, Digital Music at Amazon, told Billboard.

I’m not sure there is anything new here, however. Apple created their own music service (and bought Beats) for the same reason, to tie music services to devices. Amazon may have failed with its Fire phones, but it is doing well with the Echo, so tying the service to their home device makes sense. But it really no different than having a service tied to iOS devices and the Mac.

In that same Billboard interview, Boom says that “the investment required to build a compelling streaming service, with machine learning, all the new frontiers around voice — it’s very expensive.” He also says that Amazon wants their new service to contribute profits to Amazon. That will be a tall order, especially at the $3.99 level. But music is too big a service to just be given away as part of Prime, so you see the $7.99 price point.

How all this works out for the labels will be interesting, and whether Amazon can offer as wide a selection as Spotify will also be interesting to see. Amazon last week unveiled a reading service called Prime Reading that offers a ‘rotating selection’ of books and magazines for free to Prime members. That benefit will likely have limited appeal simply because it is so ‘limited’. The free reading is just another Prime benefit.

This is something very different, or it will need to be in order to attract subscribers.

One last thought: this promotional spot drives me crazy – reminds me of something that would have come out of the Steve Ballmer era Microsoft. Remember those early ads for the Microsoft Surface with actors spinning on their heads? I suppose this makes more sense, but only barely.

Here is Amazon’s announcement for Amazon Music Unlimited:

SEATTLE, Wash. – October 12, 2016 — Amazon today introduced Amazon Music Unlimited, an on-demand music service that redefines music streaming by putting a catalog of tens of millions of songs and thousands of hand-curated playlists and personalized stations not just at the tips of your fingers, but also on the tip of your tongue. Amazon Music Unlimited makes discovering new music or listening to favorites easier and more fun than ever with a redesigned Amazon Music app as well as with innovative new Alexa voice controls.

“Amazon Music Unlimited brings real value to the millions of people who are already Prime members, with a choice of subscribing for only $7.99 a month or even $79 per year. Plus, customers are going to love Amazon Music’s all-new app for iOS, Android and desktop,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO. “And 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. 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.”

More for Prime Members

Prime members now have more choice than ever when it comes to music streaming. Millions of Prime members already stream music on AmazonPrime every month, making Amazon Music one of the most popular music streaming services in the world. The Prime catalog has grown to more than two million songs and over one thousand hand-curated playlists and personalized stations. Today, with the launch of Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime members who want even more music have access to a catalog of tens of millions of songs and thousands of hand-curated playlists and personalized stations at a breakthrough Prime member price of $7.99/month or $79/year (which equals only $6.58/month).

Even Better on Echo

Millions of customers have fallen in love with Alexa and have given Echo over 28,000 5-star reviews on Amazon. Since the debut of Echo nearly two years ago, music consistently has been one of the most popular activities on Echo; now Amazon Music has reimagined music listening on Echo with intuitive new Alexa voice controls that turn your Echo into the ultimate personalized jukebox. No searching or browsing required…just ask. And with the advanced machine learning of Alexa, the Amazon Music experience will become more conversational and personalized all the time.

  • Ready to listen to Sia? Just ask, “Alexa, play Sia” and Alexa will create a playlist of Sia’s most popular songs
  • Want to hear the latest hit by Green Day? Just ask, “Alexa, play Green Day’s new song” and Alexa will play their latest single, “Bang Bang”
  • Have words to a song stuck in your head but can’t remember the name of the song? All you have to do is say a few words and Alexa will play the song. For example, just ask, “Alexa, play the song that goes, ‘I was doing just fine before I met you’” and Alexa will play, “Closer” by The Chainsmokers
  • Want to re-live the music from your college days? You can ask Alexa to play hit music from a decade or a specific year or month. Just ask, “Alexa, play the most popular rock from the 90s” and Alexa will take you back in time
  • Feeling down and need a pick-me-up? Just ask, “Alexa play ‘Happy Music’” and Alexa will choose a playlist based on your listening history like “Feel-Good Indie,” “R&B Fun” or “Pop To Make you Feel Better”
  • Want to listen to early catalog from a favorite artist? Just ask, “Alexa, play Van Halen from the 70s” and Alexa will play tracks from the LA rockers’ first couple of albums
  • Having friends over? Just ask, “Alexa, play music for a dinner party” and Alexa will choose a playlist based on your listening history like “Dinner With Friends,” “Cooking With 90s Hip-Hop” or “Indie Dinner Party”
  • Want to be surprised? Just ask, “Alexa, play the Song of the Day” to hear a song picked daily by Amazon Music editors. Song of the Day also features a DJ intro with fun facts about the song and an outro with suggestions for further listening
  • Not sure what to play? Just ask, “Alexa, play music” and Alexa will find something personalized just for you

Amazon Music on Alexa also brings fans and artists closer together with behind-the-scenes artist commentary about their music, called Side-by-Sides. Customers can simply ask, “Alexa, play Side-by-Side with OneRepublic” and Ryan Tedder will play and comment on songs from OneRepublic’s latest album Oh My My. Side-by-Sides are available exclusively on Amazon Music from top artists such as The Chainsmokers, Jason Aldean, Lindsey Stirling, Norah Jones, OneRepublic and Kongos – with more being added all the time.

Amazon is offering an exclusive “for Echo” subscription plan for only $3.99/month, with full access to Amazon Music Unlimited on a single Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. To start a free trial to the “for Echo” plan, just ask “Alexa, start my Music Unlimited free trial.” If you decide later that you want to enjoy Amazon Music Unlimited on multiple devices, including Fire devices, iOS, Android, Web, PC, Mac, Sonos and more, it’s easy to upgrade to a standard plan for an additional $4.00/month for Prime members ($6.00/month non-Prime customers).

Sleek and Intuitive New App

The Amazon Music app has been redesigned with a beautiful, new interface that emphasizes artist images and album art and puts music discovery and playback front and center. Key features of the app include “Home,” which showcases selections by Amazon Music editors to help customers stay up-to-date on the music they love and what’s trending and popular; “Recommended,” where customers can find personalized music suggestions powered by Amazon’s recommendation technology; and “Now Playing,” where synchronized lyrics make it easy to follow along to your favorite music. The Amazon Music app is available on Fire devices, iOS, Android, Web, PC and Mac.

Coming Soon

A new “For Family” subscription plan will be coming this year, allowing up to six family members simultaneous access to Amazon Music Unlimited for $14.99/month or $149/year. Amazon Music Unlimited also will be available for customers in the UK, Germany and Austria this year.

To learn more about Amazon Music Unlimited or start listening visit www.amazon.com/AmazonMusicUnlimited.

Comments are closed.