In the summer of 2015, Apple decided to take on Spotify with the launch of a major new paid music service built into the Music app iOS. Now, just 16 months later, Amazon—never one to be left out of the digital playground fun—has launched a very similar service.
Music is nothing new to Amazon. It's been offering MP3s for sale for years, while Prime members can access several million tracks via Amazon Music. But Amazon Music Unlimited opens the company's entire catalog to those willing to pay extra.
The big difference between Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited is Amazon offers a tier of service geared entirely toward use on devices powered by Amazon's own Alexa A.I. assistant—specifically the popular Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and the portable Echo Tap. Just ask Alexa to start a free trial. Access via Alexa also features something called Side-by-Sides, which is sort of like a DVD commentary from an artist played along with a music track.
The Echo tier of service ($3.99 per month) only works on one Echo device. To use it on more than one Echo or on other devices, you have to pay $7.99 per month or $79 per year. For non-Prime members, the service is $9.99 per month.
Just how does Amazon's new service all compare to the current leader, Spotify? Here's a breakdown.
Amazon Music Unlimited
October 2016 in the US (after offering Amazon Music store selling MP3s in 2006 and Prime Music with limited number of streaming tracks available to Prime members in June 2014.)
October 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden
6 accounts for $14.99/month or $149/years (coming soon)
6 accounts for $14.99 per month
Trial with full functionality
Requires mobile app
How many countries
US to start; , Germany & Austria coming in 2016.
Works with Alexa
Uh…yeah. Search for music by artist, lyric, mood, decade, etc.
Number of users
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Unknown at launch
Number of music tracks
"tens of millions"
Internet radio playlist curation
"thousands of hand-curated playlists and personalized stations"
256Kbps; users can pick lower bitrate on mobile apps
160Kbps or 320Kbps
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Roku, TiVo, Samsung Smart TVs, Linux, PlayStation, , and more
Not really; they're already on Alexa however for free.
Don't like these two alternatives? There are others—many of which work with Alexa. Amazon Prime members will still get access to Prime Music at no extra cost, and that also works just fine on multiple Amazon Echo devices, even simultaneously. If you've already settled on Spotify, read 25 Spotify Tricks That Will Make You a Streaming Samurai.
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