Amazon is launching a paid streaming music service, the latest entry in an increasingly crowded field.
Amazon Music Unlimited is being positioned to compete against existing services such as Spotify and Apple Music. It will cost $8 per month, or $80 a year, for members of Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime loyalty program. Non-Prime members will pay $10 a month, the same monthly fee charged by Spotify and Apple Music.
Owners of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker [pictured above], meanwhile, will be able to get the unlimited music service on one device for $4 per month.
The steaming service is one more perk — like two-day free shipping and Amazon Video — that the Seattle-based company hopes will attract people to its Prime program and thus encourage them to spend more on its flagship site. Amazon already offers Amazon Prime Music for free to Prime members, but that includes about two million songs, while the new service boasts a catalog of “tens of millions” of songs.
“Think of this as two different levels: Prime is now the introductory service and Unlimited is the full service,” said Steve Boom, Amazon’s vice president of digital music.
The service’s launch comes as the way people listen to music is changing. According to Nielsen , during the first half of 2016, digital purchasing of single tracks was down 24 percent and digital albums were down 18 percent, while streaming was up 59 percent, compared with the same period a year ago.
“The recorded music industry has been fumbling for a digital business model that really works, and I think streaming has come into its own,” said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna.
In fact, streaming of audio has eclipsed video streaming, according to Nielsen. Audio’s share of streaming is 54 percent as of June 30, compared with 44 percent a year earlier.
But it still faces the…