Buzzfeed has what it claims is a scoop – verified by five separate sources – on Amazon’s new music streaming offering within its Prime service that is due to launch in a matter of weeks. It will not, however, offer full catalogue for the as-yet-unnamed service – rather it will focus on tracks that are at least six months old.
The report is suggesting a June or July launch date but does not specify which markets it will be available in but it is expected to be similar to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video offering. Amazon Prime has a reported 20m users who pay, in the US, $99 a year (recently upped from $79) for free two-day shipping on orders along with Instant Video and a Kindle lending library as part of the subscription incentive.
It is suggested that Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and “several independents” have now licensed to the service, although there are no details on Universal Music Group’s involvement in the report. An interesting detail in the piece is that Amazon will filter music for streaming based on its existing customer data and their buying habits – the subtext being it could be a personalised listening experience.
This offering has been rumoured for a long time and mired in controversy even before it gets off the ground. Labels and publishers have intonated that Amazon is offering aggressive take-it-or-leave it deal terms. Back in April, details were leaked that alleged the licensing contracts came fitted with a non-negotiation clause and with a 1st May deadline for when they had to be signed. There were also claims of fixed payments (rather than per-stream rates), with the major labels being offered $25m a year between them and the indies (on a pro rata basis) getting $5m.
Earlier reports on these contract terms threw up contradictory information, with some labels suggesting Amazon was playing hardball with others hinting that it was open to negotiation. Amazon is, however, not commenting on any of these rumours or leaks.
The fresh details from Buzzfeed about the focus on tracks that are at least six months old would make for a curious and partial experience for those listeners who are used to Spotify, Rdio or Deezer. While some acts (notably Coldplay) window new releases and hold them back initially from subscription services, the vast majority of new music is available on them from day of release. This Amazon Prime gap may be down to licensing restrictions or, just possibly, it is based on Amazon’s own detailed purchaser data for CD and download sales that suggests catalogue, rather than frontline releases, resonates most with its consumers. Music obsessives might turn their noses up at this gap, but Amazon’s segmentation might lead them to think the majority of their customers are not so fussed if everything isn’t box fresh.