Amazon Prime Music To Now Offer 100 Million Songs

    Prime tier upgrade also includes ad-free podcasts from Wondery, New York Times and CNN.
    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Nov 02 2022, 13:22 IST
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    Prime tier upgrade also includes ad-free podcasts from Wondery, New York Times and CNN (Amazon)

    Amazon.com Inc. is beefing up the music and podcast streaming offerings for its Prime subscribers, expanding access to 100 million songs from 2 million previously. That number of songs was only available in the company's Unlimited Music plan, which starts at $9 per month. There's a catch: Music on Prime can only be played in shuffle mode, or through playlists, some of which are personalized to users' tastes and can be downloaded for offline listening. Subscribers to the Unlimited plan can select specific songs.

    The expansion comes as Prime member growth stagnates in the US, per a July report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, a Chicago firm that tracks Prime members through consumer surveys. Amazon raised its annual membership price by $20 in February and had about 172 million members as of June 30, the same as six months earlier, according to the report. Amazon Prime costs $15 a month and includes free shipping and access to the company's movies and TV shows.

    Steve Boom, vice president at Amazon Music, said the service was an “amazing benefit” to Prime subscribers when it first launched.

    “Customer expectations have evolved, as they always do, especially as music streaming itself has become mainstream,” he told Bloomberg in an interview. “What we've heard consistently from our customers is they really want access to all the music.”

    The Prime tier is now the best place people can access songs without paying for a separate music streaming service, Boom said. The company has been “very successful” at converting customers to its Unlimited tier. Its ad-supported free tier, which is available to non-Prime members, counts the fewest number of listeners, he said.

    “We're obviously always looking to improve Prime and add value into Prime,” he said. “What we're trying to really do is grow the number of Prime members taking advantage of their benefits by making it more attractive.”

    A January report from Midia, a research and consulting firm, placed Amazon Music as the third-most popular streaming service in the world, after Spotify and Apple Music. Spotify offers an ad-supported free tier that also only allows for shuffled play, while Apple requires a subscription to use its music service long-term. The Amazon updates could push some free Spotify users to switch to Amazon Music, particularly if they already subscribe to Prime.

    Also as a part of Amazon's update, podcast fans are gaining an added perk: ad-free episodes. The company will offer its Wondery show catalog without commercials, as well as some programming from third parties including the New York Times, Barstool Sports, NPR, CNN and ESPN. The platform will also exclusively include new shows from Keke Palmer, YouTuber and TikTok star MrBallen and a weekly bonus episode of basketball player JJ Redick's The Old Man and the Three. A new tech feature within the app will allow listeners to preview episodes before they commit to listening.

    Jen Sargent, chief executive officer at Wondery, said the company sought partnerships with networks catering to the “broadest selection possible” of shows, because the Prime customer is “everyone in the world.” She said the team will still look for more ad-free partnerships, as well as exclusive programming.

    Amazon now operates four audio-oriented apps: Amazon Music, Wondery Plus, Audible and Amp, which lets users DJ their own shows. Boom said he doesn't see audiobooks being integrated into Amazon Music, despite its competitor Spotify moving into the space. Wondery Plus, an app that houses ad-free podcasts and bonus content, will continue to do so for superfans, Sargent said. Meanwhile, Apple Music raised its price last week, prompting Spotify to say it would look to do so in the US, as well.

    Boom said Amazon Music previously raised its prices on both its family plan and single-device plan, and that the team is always “evaluating the right price point for our customers.”

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    First Published Date: 02 Nov, 13:22 IST
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