Amazon will now let users in the US listen to music without a subscription to its Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited membership platforms via Alexa enabled devices, the company announced. That won't apply to all music and users won't be able to just listen to whatever song they want to or to create their own playlists since the retail shipping giant isn't abandoning its paid products.
The offering will be entirely ad-supported, based on playlists curated by Amazon and available simply by asking Alexa to play a given song, artist, era, or genre. For instance, users can ask the AI assistant to play from Amazon Music's global playlists is a specific category or to play a "station" from any of those categories. To pay for the service, Amazon users will have to listen to ads at regular intervals.
Finally catching up to the competition
For those who don't want to pay Amazon's annual or monthly fees for an Amazon Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, the latest offering from the company brings its service in line with its biggest competitors. Namely, that includes products like Pandora or Google Play Music, both of which offer similarly limited listening at no cost with advertising.
While it isn't immediately clear what caused Amazon to shift its focus and its services to match what's available elsewhere, it isn't entirely surprising either. The announcement follows another that's also related to media but in the paid video subscription category.
As of last week, the company revealed that it's opening its doors to a more direct competition specifically with Google. In a surprising turn of events, the company is set to allow the search giant's YouTube and YouTube Kids applications to appear on Fire TV gadgets. Its own Amazon Prime Video services will similarly be appearing on Google's Android TV platform in a more official capacity -- as opposed to the previous partnerships that allowed service and the app on select brands or models.
The move ensures that competition doesn't force the consumer to choose a specific brand that isn't owned by either Google or Amazon in the first place just to have access to their preferred streaming platform. In effect, it gives users more choice and removes at least one of the limitations preventing some from using its services.
Amazon's free music offering follows a similar tact, ensuring the company isn't only competing in the paid segment of the market and allowing consumers more choices for listening to music.
Users who don't have time to waste on advertisements can, of course, still pay a subscription to access music via either Amazon Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited. The former of those paves the way for those who are already paying for free shipping and video playback to try out the company's music service. That's limited to around 2-million songs.
The latter service is music-specific and costs $7.99 per month and lets users access more than 50-million songs. A 30-day free trial is available too, for those who want to try out the paid version before committing to either that or the new ad-supported music service.