From The Verge: Amazon is expanding its music offering, opening up its full catalog of 100 million songs in Amazon Music to Prime subscribers at no extra charge. The company is also offering many of its in-house podcasts and a selection of others, ad-free, in the app. You’ll still need a separate subscription if you want Amazon Music to really rival Spotify and Apple Music, but Amazon’s service is becoming a seriously compelling (sort of) free option.
The difference in tiers is all about access. All Prime members will be able to access the entire Amazon Music catalog, but not fully on demand; you can shuffle any artist, album, or playlist, Amazon says, but you can’t just select a song and hit play. For that — and to play songs in higher fidelity or with spatial audio — you’ll need a $9 monthly subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited. (A few playlists will be available on demand and for offline listening to non-upgraders, Amazon says, but it’s not clear which ones.) As free services go, though, Amazon Music is now essentially Spotify minus the ads for anyone already paying for Prime.
Getting rid of ads seems to have been a focus for Amazon: it’s also making a bunch of its podcasts available ad-free to Prime subscribers, including those from Wondery, the podcast studio Amazon acquired in 2020. Other shows from NPR, CNN, ESPN, and The New York Times will be available ad-free as well. “When we talk to consumers, what do they want?” Amazon’s VP of Amazon Music, Steve Boom, said to The Verge’s Nilay Patel on the Decoder podcast. “The biggest thing they don’t like about podcasts is all the ads, not surprisingly. So we focused on building a great catalog of stuff that people like to listen to and making that stuff free.”
Amazon is also working on podcast discovery. It’s rolling out a new feature called Podcast Previews, which seems to be something like trailers for podcast episodes. You’ll be able to listen to “a short, digestible soundbite” before deciding to dive into an episode, which Amazon thinks could help discovery. It’s a limited feature with just a few podcasts for now, but Amazon says it’s a personalized and “swipeable” experience based on what you listen to. So, Tinder for podcasts.
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