Amazon takes aim at Apple and Spotify with launch of paid streaming service

Amazon has launched a paid music streaming service to rival Spotify and Apple Music. Amazon Music Unlimited will have access to tens of millions of songs, and it will be cheaper than its biggest rivals for members of its Prime service and owners of its Echo speaker. The service, available to users in the U.S., will cost $3.99 a month for Echo owners and $7.99 a month for Amazon Prime members. Everyone else will have to pay $9.99 a month, the same charge as US subscribers to Spotify and Apple music. It is expected to be rolled out in the UK, Germany and Australia later this year.

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

Steve Boom, vice president of Amazon Music

Amazon is pinning a lot on the Echo system, a smart speaker that responds to voice commands and sees it as its unique selling point in a crowded streaming market. The tech giant has worked artificial intelligence into its Echo system, so users can request songs that fit a particular mood or search for a song via lyrics. Kintan Brahmbhatt, director of Amazon Music, said: “You can ask for Michael Jackson by saying, ‘Play music by the King of Pop.’ It’s smart enough to know that’s what you meant.” Amazon will continue to offer Prime members a limited streaming service for free.