Amazon offers streaming music for Prime users

Amazon offers streaming music for Prime users

PRIME-TIME:The new feature, dubbed "Prime Music," allows subscribers of the $99-a-year program to stream or download more than a million songs without added fees or interruptions from advertisements. Photo: Associated Press

By Deepa Seetharaman

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Inc launched a streaming music service on Thursday that comes free with its $99-a-year Prime membership program, but offers a smaller selection of recent hits than rivals Spotify and Apple Inc’s Beats Music.

The new feature, dubbed “Prime Music,” allows subscribers of the $99-a-year program to stream or download more than a million songs without added fees or interruptions from advertisements.

This is one of many steps Amazon has taken in recent months to broaden the appeal of Prime, which includes perks such as free two-day shipping, after increasing its price to $99 from $79.

But the selection on Amazon’s streaming service is less robust than Spotify and Beats, which both offer more than 20 million songs. Amazon will also have fewer new songs and will not include songs from Universal Music Group Inc’s catalog, which includes work from artists Kanye West and Lady Gaga.

Amazon’s head of digital music, Steve Boom, acknowledged those shortcomings, but added that because the service is free with Prime, it offers more bang per buck than standalone streaming services that can cost $10 a month.

“If there are a few tracks you want to buy, the cost of doing that in our store will be dramatically less than paying $120 a year for, frankly, a lot of music people don’t listen to,” Boom said in an interview.

Amazon’s own data shows that a “substantial” portion of the 25 million to 30 million songs sold on its website are never purchased, he said. He declined to elaborate.

Universal, the world’s largest record company, and Amazon are still in negotiations about the service, he said, declining to elaborate on the negotiations or its sticking points.

Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and other smaller labels have signed on to the Amazon service. In some of its deals with labels, Amazon will have to wait up to six months after songs are released to add them to its service. In other cases, Amazon will be able to add new songs immediately.

The new service is a reflection of Amazon’s aggressive push into new areas such as digital content and hardware. Next week, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is expected to unveil Amazon’s first smartphone during an event in Seattle.

Recent Headlines

in Black Friday, National

WATCH: How holiday shopping can help charities


In the frenzy of holiday shopping, consumers are doing more than getting great deals, they’re also using coupons to help raise money for a number of worthy causes.

in Black Friday, National

Thanksgiving getaway: Cheap gas, high security


Millions of Americans embarked on their annual Thanksgiving travels on Wednesday, with security at airports, New York City's parade festivities and other venues expected to be heightened amid jitters after the Paris attacks.

in National

2015 to be the hottest year in history


This year will be the hottest on record and 2016 could be hotter due to the El Niño weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization said.

in National, World

Many House Republicans want refugee restrictions in spending bill


Nearly one-third of the Republicans in the House of Representatives signed a letter calling on party leaders to ensure that a must-pass spending bill block any use of federal funding to resettle refugees from Syria and nearby countries.

in Black Friday, National

Just call him a V.I.T.


The VIP birds have arrived at the White House to get the annual presidential pardon.