Amazon to launch a music-streaming service? It already has one: Prime Music, which as we reported earlier this week has now launched in the world’s four biggest music markets.
Yet that’s bundled in to its Prime membership program, with a small 1.4m-tracks catalogue tuned for mainstream listening.
External evidence suggests Prime Music is finding a decent audience, but the New York Post now claims that Amazon is planning an expanded, standalone service too.
“The e-commerce giant has held meetings in the past few weeks to discuss licensing tunes for a full-blown subscription music service that would ape streaming music market leaders Spotify and Apple Music,” claimed its report yesterday, citing several sources.
“The planned stand-alone music streaming service would come with its own monthly fee… It will feature a much more robust music selection than is now available via Prime.”
The report predicts an Autumn launch and a $9.99-a-month price, but with potential for a discount to buyers of Amazon’s Echo connected speaker.
There’s a fun quote from an unnamed “music industry insider” in the piece claiming that “the music industry wants to see all the tech giants fighting it out to try and really take streaming to the mainstream”.
That plays in to mutterings we’ve heard elsewhere about the streaming market ultimately coming down to Apple versus Google (including YouTube) versus Amazon: tech giants dominating a landscape that’s increasingly tough for even the biggest pureplay streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.
Would a standalone $9.99-a-month service make sense for Amazon, though, rather than its current strategy of using music as an incentive for people to sign up to its Prime membership?
That strategy – which also includes streaming TV and films, and free shipping of purchases – seems to be working pretty well, with Amazon announcing yesterday that global Prime memberships were up 51% in 2015, while Prime Music specifically saw its streaming hours “more than triple” year-on-year in the US in the final quarter of 2015.
As downloads decline and streaming grows, it may make strategic sense for Amazon to prepare a replacement for its MP3 store – but only if this most data-driven of companies identifies an audience of music fans for whom Prime Music won’t be enough (or, indeed, of Prime Music users who’d be ripe for an upgrade using their billing relationship with Amazon).
Even so, Amazon’s avowed focus so far on “mainstream” music fans, and a $9.99-a-month price that some industry experts worry is too high for many of that demographic, may be uneasy bedfellows. We await Amazon’s next moves with interest.