Everybody knows about (or already subscribes to) Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Tidal, or one of a dozen other streaming music services, but I find that people often forget about or overlook one of the biggest players out there — Amazon! Amazon has been in the online music business for a long time, from selling MP3s to delivering streaming content. I remember paying .69 cents for Amazon Music MP3s when iTunes was selling them for .99 cents or even $1.29 a decade ago, and the company even brought the "free" Prime Music service to life before bigger players like Apple got into the streaming game. Now that the market is quite crowded, why should you give Amazon Music a chance? Well, I've got my reasons, and I'll share them with you here.
Amazon Music Features
Feature for feature, Amazon's music services compare quite favorably with some of the most popular by subscription number, including Spotify and Apple Music. I've included a chart of some of their major features for a quick comparison.
Be aware that there are a number of options that fall under the Amazon Music (opens in new tab) umbrella, including student plans, family plans, and even HD-quality plans, so if you have any questions or get confused, consult this handy guide we've put together for you. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to focus on the individual tier of Amazon Music Unlimited, which runs $9.99 (or $7.99 for Prime members).
|Amazon Music Unlimited||Spotify Premium||Apple Music|
|Monthly Fee||From $8||$10||$10|
|Number of Songs||> 50 million||> 50 million||> 50 million|
|Standard Audio Quality||256 kbps||160 kbps||256 kbps|
|HD Options||Up to 3730 kbps*||Up to 320 kbps||NA|
|Smart Assistant||Alexa||NA but works with Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant||Siri|
|Special Features||My Soundtrack|
My Discovery Mix
Side by Side
|My Daily Mix|
Amazon Music HD is a premium add-on at an additional fee
As you can see, Amazon Music Unlimited is priced competitively with Spotify and Apple Music and even undercuts them for Prime members. It offers basically the same family plan and pricing as the others and has a similarly-sized catalog. Amazon Music Unlimited also offers an HD option (for an additional fee), as well as unique features like Auto Rip (where if you buy a CD or vinyl, you automatically get those songs in high quality in your Amazon Music account), and Alexa support.
When it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning, you'd think Amazon wouldn't have any problems, but they've been a bit slow out of the gate in this regard. However, Amazon is quickly making up ground on its competitors when it comes to exclusives, originals, and content creation. It features a bunch of custom playlists like Control Alt Repeat (alternative) and Alexa's Most Requested that are updated weekly. It launched with an original series called Side by Side, which features interview snippets with top artists interspersed with their favorite tracks (I particularly like the U2 one). I've also found that the My Soundtrack station and My Discovery Mix playlists are getting better at predicting what I want to listen to the more I use the service.
Amazon Music Apps
Like its competitors, Amazon Music Unlimited is available on multiple platforms (arguably more than its competitors). You can get the Amazon Music app on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, tvOS, Fire TV, Roku, Chrome OS, and more.
The desktop app (opens in new tab) is pretty bare-bones, but it gets the job done. There are tabs to browse the Amazon Music collection (with recommended content, stations, and playlists), a recently played section, a tab for your music, and a link to the Amazon Music store for those who are still interested in purchasing their music. The app also comes with a mini-player, so you don't have to look at the whole thing at once while you're working. The shot below is of the app on macOS Catalina.
When I listen to Amazon Music on my computer (opens in new tab), I often chose to do so in a web browser. For me, it seems to work a bit quicker than the desktop app and functions just as well. The web player shows more content and context in a single window, and it is easier for me to just bounce between browser tabs (which I already have open anyway) than it is to have another app running on my desktop.
Finally, there is the Amazon Music mobile app. In some respects, the mobile app (both on Android and iOS) is not as flashy as that from Spotify or Apple, but I have to say I kind of like that about it. There are only four main tabs at the bottom of the screen which makes it super easy and intuitive to navigate, and I particularly like that recently played content, be it songs, artists, playlists, or stations, is so easy to find from the Home tab or the My Music tab. The search tab is straightforward (and even shows you recent searches there), and there's also a handy Alexa tab that activates the voice assistant for those times when you need a little more help finding something, or you just don't feel like typing.
I've always appreciated how the app is laid out for playing music. You have play/pause and skip track buttons as well as repeat, shuffle, and add to playlist options in a mini-player at the bottom of the screen, and if you maximize the player, you get live lyrics on the top half of the screen with a transparent background for a subtle audio-visual effect. There is also an easy way to cast audio to Amazon Echo speakers, or you can stream via Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, or Chromecast. All-in-all, it's a good look, in my opinion.
Amazon Music Pitfalls
Honestly, there aren't too many pitfalls for Amazon's music service. It offers pretty much the same catalog as its main competitors, along with original content, custom stations, and curated playlists. The two main areas where it stumbles a bit are with its personalization, and social functions.
With their more established AI and machine learning models, Apple and Spotify are better right now at guessing what I want to hear next and often surprise me with the playlists they put together and the artists that they feature on stations I create. Amazon is improving in this area, however. For example, it has a My Soundtrack station that is continually updated based on your listening habits, preferences, and feedback, and a My Discovery Mix playlist that it updates weekly that is supposed to be like Spotify's Daily Mix or the New Music Mix on Apple Music. Getting better, but it's not there yet.
The other area that Amazon Music trails Spotify and Apple is social/sharing. No service is better than Spotify for sharing music with the public or with friends, and their end of year Wrapped synopses are a cultural phenomenon. Apple isn't as good for sharing as Spotify, but it's got some tricks up its sleeve too. You can follow friends just like Spotify and share playlists, and Apple Music does a great job of giving artists and bands a voice in the app with its radio shows, celebrity playlists, and Beats 1 station and interviews. Just about the only social aspect to Amazon Music is the ability to share a track or playlist to your social channels, but that's a one-way move. While you can now (finally) follow friends who are also on Amazon Music, it's just not as seamless an experience as on the other services.
The last criticism that comes to mind is Amazon's confusing pricing structure for its music plans. Generally speaking, you can, in fact, get it for cheaper than competing services, but there are some caveats attached to that statement. For example, there is a $3.99 plan that you can get, but that only works on a single Echo device. This might be great if you live by yourself in a studio apartment, but if you want to listen to unlimited music on the go or in another room even, you're out of luck. And while the $7.99 individual plan is a bargain compared to other services, you have to be an Amazon Prime member to get that deal (which is a $119 per year). If you're not a Prime member, it might make more sense to get another service. However, if you are already a Prime member, it might behoove you to take advantage of these savings. Regardless of your Prime status, though, the family plan costs the same as Apple's or Spotify's, and the HD plan is an additional fee above that. So take these savings with a grain of salt is what I'm saying.
Sounds pretty good to me
When Amazon first launched its premium music service, I think it was hampered by a few things. For one, it already had Prime Music, which was limited but free for Prime members, and two, it was late behind two other behemoths in the industry. Despite all of that, Amazon Music Unlimited has continued to get better as a service and has even climbed into a respectable third place among paid music subscription services.
If you are a Prime member and you're not tied to another subscription service, I think you should give Amazon Music Unlimited a serious look. It has a comparable music catalog to all the major services, it has some pretty compelling original playlists and artist collaborations, and its curation and personalization are getting better month-by-month. There is a reason that Amazon Music Unlimited is growing so quickly, and I think you should jump on board to find out why!
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The best of Amazon Music on the best Echo speaker. It's also cheaper than comparable devices from the competition.
Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
"I remember paying .69 cents for Amazon Music MP3s when iTunes was selling them for .99 cents". Wow, really??!! Funny, I don't remember pay less than 1 cent per song, which is what your statement is saying. Try either "69 cents" or "$.69" if you want to get the math right...........
Lighten up, Francis.
Try taking a pill and shutting the f**k up...
Go back to your basement
Solid disagree with this, I stream exclusively in my car through Android Auto, and have since it's launch, and Amazon can't seem to figure out it's app. If they can create a way for it to not crash continuously then I would definitely use it, I already have prime. Mind you, this is the same issues with 3 different cars, and multiple phones.
Totally agree... Amazon music unlimited is a mess on Android Auto. I wish it was better, because I would switch from Google play music over to it. But trying to access your off line playlist on Android Auto is a nightmare. I have a free subscription till the middle of January.
The thing that drives me nuts with the Android Auto app is the Album Art always dissappears. I know it's a picky little thing to get frustrated with but it does drive me crazy. Also, the delay in starting the music is bad as well, always seem to get the spinning circle. Having said that, Google Play Music also crashes a ton on Android Auto. For the money I love Amazon Unlimited and I like it because of streaming over all my echo's is very convenient.
No option to port your own music to them? No thanks
When you download the amazon music app to your pc or mac, then you can go to the settings and move your music library over to amazon for free! Works for prime music as well! I did this with my mac!
I ordered amz music through my echo dot and it's $4/mo.
u won't enjoy it across all ur devices then
The stations seem to play the same songs over again. I don't like the station aspect of unlimited but everything else is okay.
Album management is the showstopper for me. If you add your own playlists then you get the album added to your album view for EVERY track in the playlist, totally spams the album view. Shame as I do really like the service otherwise.
With articles like this, does Amazon pay by the word or by the click? As usual, Android Central tosses roses to the Apple Corporation and fails to even mention Google Play Music.... 🤪
or you tube music, but yeah, all these articles are linked to money it seems.
This place is basically an advertising site with the occasional Android article sprinkled in.
What we really need are more articles on the Disney streaming service... LOL
I attempted to move to AM from GPM just last week. I use music streaming only for my personally curated playlists which have taken many hours of work assembling.
I couldn't find a way to migrate my playlists so contacted Amazon support only to be told it wasn't possible. My only choice was to start from scratch and painstakingly curate my playlists on AM. I have Amazon Prime and really wanted to use AM as well but no way will I be spending hours curating my playlists again.
End result is GPM keep me as a subscriber only because it's a nightmare to change.
I'll consider it when Play Music dies, but for now, PM is the only service that I can get free unlimited downloads from.
YouTube music is going to be the best when it fully launches and decides to offer an HD tier as well. All they have to do is flip a switch since everything is uploaded to them in LPCM or FLAC format anyway. Amazon music doesn't have music videos.
@eric12341 YT Music is a waste of space until it provides a way to migrate GPM playlists to YT Music. I can assure you, most GPM users with curated playlists will financially punish Google if we are expected to redo our playlists song by song.
They will, they've promised that last year
I hope you right. I have a lot of time and energy vested in GPM.
You are obviously being paid for your content. Shame o you.
Prefer Amazon Music over Google Play to buy and download songs. Song transfers to my computer and phone are easy, not with Google Play.
I already get YT Music (meh) and GPM with my YT Premium sub. I'd consider Amazon Music if it was included with my Prime subscription, but I personally don't want to give Amazon more money than I already do.
I have free Apple music
For the pricing you don’t take into account annual subscription, which makes the monthly subscription cheaper
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