Amazon Music is a commitment to Hip-Hop & Latin Music, curated playlists and a revamped interface away from becoming a true challenger to Apple Music and Spotify.
If you haven’t realized by now from following me on Twitter and/or on this platform, I am enthralled with the race for supremacy in the music streaming space. I have written extensively about Spotify and to a lesser extent Apple Music but as you know there are other players in the game. Tidal, the Norwegian launched and Artist owned company, has been known for releasing Jay-Z and Beyonce exclusives and also paying a higher royalty rate to Artists. For a while, those were the three main players, Spotify with the biggest subscriber base, Apple Music behind them with Tidal carving out a niche.
Enter Amazon Music into the picture. Amazon Music Unlimited launched on October 12th, 2016 as a full-catalog unlimited streaming service, available as a monthly or annual subscription. Apple Music and Spotify are both priced at $9.99 per month and Amazon Music Unlimited is also priced at $9.99 per month.
Outside of price, Amazon has what only Apple can match in terms of a consumer base, money, and users of there services. The only difference is, Apple has bought into music 100 percent and its value to the ecosystem and product sphere while Amazon has not. Apple Music features new wave and cutting edge curated playlists, partnerships with the likes of Drake and Taylor Swift and artist-hosted radio stations that push the culture.
Amazon, on the other hand, has not fully embraced the value of music and music culture. Quite frankly, they have limited radio stations and playlists with spotty curation. Even with that being said they are a leader in catalogue, boasting over 50 million songs to which only Apple Music can compete with in regards to the immense closet of music.
Even with some of the obvious advantages a company like Amazon might have, for the most part, the company has not taken advantage. However, in 2019, there are reasons to believe that the company is starting to buy in. Recently, the streaming platform unveiled a free tier which allows casual fans to come in and get an experience before potentially purchasing up. Music Business Worldwide has also reported that Amazon is planning to launch a new high-fidelity music streaming service with better-than-CD-quality audio. The new service is expected to cost around $15 a month offering a premium tier for those who value music. According to the MBW, “It’s a better bitrate, better than CD quality,” making amazon’s new tier a direct competitor to Tidal’s Hi-Res offering. If this comes to market you are looking at a service that will directly appeal to the sharpest of music consumers. This is a huge sign that Amazon is now going to jump all in on music despite Amazon Music being the profit loss leader for the company.
This is the power of Amazon much like Apple. Amazon made over $10 billion in profits last year, largely because of its cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services. Spotify and Tidal can ill afford to take the risks or spend the money that Amazon can.
The reality is Amazon Music doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it is most likely the third-largest digital music service by listeners and is expected to be the fastest-growing music subscription service this year, and through 2021.
This is all without a true commitment to the world’s two largest streamed genre’s in Hip-Hop and Latin Music. In fact, if you look at Spotify and Apple's daily charts and look at Amazons you will see some differences in genres. In addition to the lack of focus in popular music, Amazon’s interface is not appealing or as up to date as it’s counterparts. This will be an enormous hindrance in its efforts to rise to the top if Amazon’s interface isn't revamped sooner than later.
Regardless, these are issues that Amazon’s big budget could change in the near future. With the Amazon Echo in plenty of households and Amazon Prime being consumed worldwide, there is a real opportunity to use their profitability, reputation, technological resources and industry connections to jump a spot in the streaming race.
For Amazon the choice is theirs; live in the middle of the pack or commit to music. Some of the recent developments look like Amazon has chosen the later. Now it’s time to bring in the curators and music industry power players.