Amazon could be preparing to challenge Spotify, Apple Music, and other subscription music services with a full-fledged rival that's much bigger than Prime Music. The New York Post reports that Amazon executives have kicked off licensing talks with the music industry for a Spotify-like offering that would tentatively cost $9.99 per month.
Prime Music, a perk that comes included with Amazon's annual membership, offers on-demand and ad-free access to over 1 million songs. But the overall music catalog isn't anywhere near as large as those offered by Spotify and other paid services. It's pretty scattershot, often missing the newest releases that consumers can stream elsewhere. Prime Music is a nice "there when you need it" kind of thing, but it's not any real threat to Spotify. It seems Amazon is ready to change that with a standalone service that's completely separate from Prime.
Perhaps the most surprising detail about the latest rumor is a claim that the expanded music offering would operate as a standalone paid service with a fee — rumored to be $9.99 a month — separate from Amazon Prime.
By providing the music streaming service separately, it could give Amazon an alternative product to pair with products (the rumor is it might offer a discount when purchased together with its Echo personal assistant). But that would nonetheless mark a departure from its usual strategy. Consider that it has invested heavily to build what is effectively a mini-Netflix, complete with original programming, and yet that offering is not broken out, but rather kept with Prime.
If Amazon is planning to go whole hog on streaming then they will need to pay special attention to interface and design. Much of the Amazon digital space is overly clunky (including the store site, though it works out of familiarity) and lacks the intuitiveness and 'razzle dazzle' that they will need to compete as another music DSP, especially with younger listeners. As far as another tech giant presumably entering the fray, I suppose it's good in that the battle will push streaming quicker to the mainstream with higher rates of adoption for paid services (one can hope, right?). But the battle could also lead to cut-throat underpricing and lower pay-outs, as well as a lot more release windowing and exclusivity which (IMO) doesn't much help streaming's cause.