May 21, 2019

Amazon and Google launch free music services in challenge to Spotify

20 April 2019, 09:25 | Elsie Buchanan

Amazon launches free, ad-supported music service for Alexa devices

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The free service, announced Thursday, will be available to customers with Alexa devices who don't subscribe to Amazon Prime, the loyalty program known mostly for shipping discounts.

Online streaming services such Spotify and Apple Music have become the music industry's single biggest revenue source, overtaking physical sales and digital downloads for the first time.

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In an announcement today, Amazon said that US-based customers who have an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Echo smart speaker, can stream content from Amazon Music even if they're not an Unlimited customer and they don't have a Prime membership. With the launch of its new ad-supported streaming service, Amazon is now a direct competitor to Spotify, which also offers a free ad-supported tier. Amazon Music's free playlists and stations are available now on Echo speakers and other compatible Alexa-enabled gadgets.

Previously, Prime subscribers could access Prime Music songs for free and with intermittent ads for the cost of an annual subscription. This includes around two million tracks.

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Listeners can choose the genre of music, but can't create specific playlists. Amazon Music Unlimited, which starts at $7.99 a month, offers over 50 million songs. Spotify has grown to more than 170m active users and has used its free app to entice consumers to pay for its paid-for Spotify Premium service. The company's announcement follows a report earlier this week that claimed Amazon was preparing to launch a free ad-supported music service to compete with Spotify's free tier and similar services.

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