Amazon Prime Adds Unlimited Music Streaming, But What’s The Catch?

Amazon Prime Adds Unlimited Music Streaming, But What’s The Catch?

Earlier today, Amazon took the wraps off Prime Music, a new addition to the company’s Prime subscription service. It’s best known for free two-day shipping and Netflix- style video streaming (which now includes a ton of HBO content), but Music adds an important component: music!

In other words, for an annual charge of $99, you can now stream unlimited, commercial- free tunes just about anywhere. Prime Music is available via your PC, your Roku box, your Kindle Fire, your Android and iOS devices, and so on.

Let’s go to the calculator, shall we?

A dedicated music-streaming service like Spotify or Rhapsody costs $9.99 per month, or around $120 per year. (Neither one offers a price break if you prepay that year, which is kind of annoying.) That’s already $20 more than Prime, and you don’t get the shipping, video, or e-book benefits. (Prime also includes a free e-book each month, though the limited library makes this the weakest aspect of the service.)

So for music lovers, a Prime subscription is a slam dunk, right? Not necessarily: while Spotify and its ilk offer massive libraries with tens of millions of songs, Amazon’s catalog includes “only” about a million.

That’s the catch. Although the Prime service itself represents a tremendous value overall, Prime Music doesn’t really beat the other music services at their own game.

That said, from what I’ve seen so far, it’s excellent. The catalog includes tons of modern and classic gems, everything from Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” album to Journey’s “Greatest Hits” to Daft Punk’s inescapably catchy track “Get Lucky.”

I also went searching for a personal favorite, Brendan Benson, who is perhaps best known as one half of The Raconteurs (the other half being Jack White), and found his two most recent albums.

Prime Music also offers a wealth of curated playlists, like Relaxing Indie Rock, 50 Great Classic Rock Songs, and I <3 Pop Hits. You can browse playlists by genres or even a Songza-like “Moods & Activities.”

Of particular interest, the Prime Music mobile apps support offline listening, meaning you can download tracks to your device for those times when there’s no Internet available (or you don’t want to burn through your data plan).

All this begs an interesting question: Is it worth subscribing to Prime just to get Prime Music? Not if you want access to nearly every song known to man. But you’ll still enjoy an almost endless variety of awesome songs, and that’s icing on top of an already sweet cake. For the price, Amazon Prime is quite possibly the best deal on anything ever. I’m a mighty contented subscriber right about now.

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World andWired.


Rick Broida has spent the last 25 years writing about technology in all its forms. A self-proclaimed cheapskate, he authors an eponymous blog for CNET. He is also a contributor to CNET's iPhone Atlas and Ehow Tech. Broida's book credits include the best-selling "How to Do Everything with Your Palm Handheld" and the more recent "The Cheapskate Rules: 21 Easy Money-Saving Tech Secrets."

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