Amazon’s cheap new music streaming service is a great deal—if you love other Amazon things

Power on.
Power on.
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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As promised, Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is diving into the music streaming fray. The fingers-in-many-pots company is out today with Amazon Music Unlimited, a standalone, on-demand subscription music service whose main selling point is a low, low price.

Is it a Spotify killer? Maybe.

Amazon Music Unlimited is very cheap—but only under certain conditions. The service, offering “tens of millions” of songs just like its competitors, is available on three tiers:

  • $3.99/month, for Amazon Echo/Dot/Tap users
  • $7.99/month, for Amazon Prime members
  • $9.99/month, for non-Prime members

While the first two price points are significantly cheaper than anything else that exists on the music streaming market right now, scoring those discounted deals requires having already shelled out a decent amount of money on Amazon products.

The voice-activated Echo product line ranges from $49-$179, and a Prime membership costs $99/year. Moreover, those who take advantage of the $3.99 monthly Echo deal will only be able to listen to the service’s unlimited music catalog on Alexa-powered Echo devices—and only one at a time, at that.

Behind the three-tiered model is a smart business strategy. Amazon, aiming for continued growth in Prime membership and for 10 million Echo sales (paywall) in the next year, is using enticingly cheap music plans to push its existing products and services. The question is whether people will be persuaded enough by the cheap music deals to actually buy into the rest.

By comparison, Spotify, Apple Music, and many other rival streaming services charge $9.99 per month. So if you’re not a paying Prime and/or Echo user already, there’s fairly little reason to opt for Amazon’s music streaming catalog over those others, which have been around longer and come with nifty, well-tested side features like personalized playlists and customized radio stations.

(Note: Amazon Music Unlimited is entirely separate from Prime Music, which comes bundled with Prime membership by default for no extra cost and only offers two million songs. A bit confused about the differences between all the options? You’re not the only one.)