Now, your first thought might well be that one of the last things the world needs right now is another music streaming service -- aren't Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer enough? Well, yes, they probably are. But there's a bigger picture here. The most interesting part of the new launch is that it is priced very similarly to to its Apple and Spotify rivals. However, one point is that as with Amazon Prime, you get a discount for a paying a year up front. The most interesting part, however, is that you can get the service for just under four pounds per month when used on an Echo device.
It's not just the price that is attention-grabbing, but also the features this allows. The AI box of tricks will allow users to search by name of track and artist but also via natural language, such as play the song with such and such lyrics or play some top hits from 1976. Anyone who has spent time trying to tap in artist and album names on a mobile phone will know how useful this must be. And not having to wrack your brains to remember who that guy was or who sang that song must come as a welcome relief.
There's no word yet on whether Amazon will try selling its video content as a subscription service -- although it's unlikely in the short term, as it needs to turn content investment into viewers very soon -- and so a paywall is unlikely. So Amazon Prime members who upgrade will, at least for now, get video content thrown in too.
Another point worth mentioning is that its arch rival, Apple Music, is just plain annoying. I've told the service a million times that I just want to listen to the music i painstakingly added one album at a time, yet it continually tries to get me to upgrade. My playlists seem to have magically migrated to Spotify, which could well have been something I've done, and the other day I couldn't play anything once my train left Paddington Station because I didn't have WiFi. Why would I need a connection for music I have, and I repeat, painstakingly added one CD at a time to my device? There has also been a lot of anger aimed at Apple online about how people claim to have had music lost or moved by Apple.
So just at the time that Apple is frustrating users, along comes a service with a comparable amount of tracks that slightly undercuts it and allows you to ask for the type of tracks you want without pressing lots of tiny buttons. For any Amazon Prime customers considering an Echo this Christmas, it has to be a tempting offer. Prime should already pay for itself over a year with free next-day delivery and video content, such as The Grand Tour, is thrown in for free. For GBP4 or GBP6.58 per month (for an annual fee paid up front) you can add an Echo or general subscription to Music Unlimited.
In the week that The Grand Tour starts up, Amazon has certainly given customers some food for thought and thrown the gauntlet down to Apple.