Amazon’s Music Service Launches With a Secret Weapon: Alexa

By Aarthi Rayapura October 12, 2016

By Tim Moynihan

Alexa can already order you an Uber, control your smart home devices, and keep you company. She’s about to learn much better DJ skills, save you six bucks a month on streaming music, and possibly even change the way you listen to music in your house.

Amazon Music Unlimited, a beefed-up subscription service built to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, launches today. It’s cheaper than those big-name services—for many users, at least—and it features clever voice control with the company’s Echo speakers.

If you’re using Music Unlimited on an Amazon Echo, Tap, or Dot, the service only costs $4 a month. To use it on anything else—mobile devices, your computer, a Fire TV stick, or even Sonos speakers—the pricing falls more in line with Spotify or Apple Music. It’s $8 per month if you’re an Amazon Prime member and $10 per month if you aren’t.

Is There an Echo in Here?
At face value, entering a streaming-music market that has established Goliaths like Spotify and Apple divvying up more than 50 percent of the market share may sound like Fire Phone 2.0. In fact, it may seem even crazier: People generally don’t switch the music services they’ve bought into every two years. They drive tent stakes in the ground in the form of playlists and saved albums, then camp out for the long haul.

But Amazon’s secret weapon isn’t just lower prices. Its popular Echo lineup of voice-assistant products are a huge draw, and because of Echo and Alexa, Amazon Music Unlimited is aiming at a different target than its competitors. Traditional mobile and desktop users aren’t an afterthought, but Amazon is hoping the in-home experience is the huge hook for millions of new subscribers.

The Request Line Is Open
As you’d expect, you can just ask for a specific album, artist, or genre, and Alexa will start spinning. But Amazon has also employed the voice assistant’s machine-learning smarts to get much more granular and helpful. You can request genre- or mood-specific music from a certain era, to fit a certain mood, request the latest single from an artist, or say “Alexa, play music” to start a dynamic playlist based on your listening habits.

The service even aims to one-up Shazam. If you don’t know the name of the Das EFX song stuck in your brain, just ask Alexa to “play the song that goes ‘I diggedy dot my i’s and cross my tiggedy-t’s bro.’”

Prime Directive
This isn’t Amazon’s first stab at a streaming-music service, but it’s certainly its most ambitious and compelling effort. A couple of years ago, Amazon Prime Music launched, and it has about two million songs on demand. It’s a decent extra for Prime subscribers, but it offers a fraction of the music the major streaming services do.

Music Unlimited also won’t replace Amazon Prime Music altogether. Amazon Prime Music lives on, giving Prime members the ability to stream a couple million songs as part of their Prime subscription. For an extra $4 to $8 a month, Prime subscribers get access to the Music Unlimited catalog, which is at least 10 times bigger.

Read the full article on Wired

And learn about Amazon’s creative global expansion strategy in our guide –  Going Global: Lessons from Amazon!