Review was updated on 11th June, 2019
Joining the crowded ranks of music streaming services available in Australia, Amazon has shaken things up with a special version of its full-scale Amazon Music Unlimited service – one designed just for Prime members.
As people who’ve already signed up for an Amazon Prime membership already know, the service is about a lot more than just free shipping of a whole range of Amazon-sold products. As part of the Prime service, members have also had the chance to enjoy the Prime Video streaming service (with some great Amazon originals alongside a bunch of other content) and the Prime Reading service, with a range of free eBooks to enjoy at no extra cost.
Just like Prime Reading – which acts as an entry-level tier to the full-fledged Kindle Unlimited service – the freshly introduced Prime Music offering is a cut-down version of Amazon’s full Amazon Music Unlimited service, which we reviewed recently. But while “free is free”, is Amazon Prime Music worth giving your attention to? Read on!
What Makes Amazon Prime Music Different?
If you’re looking for some music in your online life without having to fork out any extra money, there’s long been options for that – most notably Spotify’s ad-supported free tier, or the various internet radio stations that can be found both through apps and web sites. Amazon Prime Music, though, is very much not that.
The whole idea here is to throw useful bonus perks at people who subscribe to the Amazon Prime service (currently $59 a year). While Prime is, really, like a subscription to discounts and free shipping, Amazon has long enhanced it with value-added extras ranging from video streaming to photo storage – and this, the “lite” version of their full Unlimited music streaming service.
There’s no extra charge for using it, and if you’re just looking for some music to throw on for work or for a social occasion, it’s a great option to have around.
Amazon Music. 50 million songs. $11.99/month.
What Does Amazon Prime Music Deliver?
Right from the moment you load up the Prime Music web site or app, you’ll see what they’re aiming for here. This isn’t a cutting-edge music discovery service, with the latest releases front and centre and recommendations of obscure stuff based on your tastes. No, this is one for the masses – a real crowd-pleaser.
And that’s actually a good thing – this is something that, as a free extra, you could turn to in a lot of situations where music’s wanted and it’s better that it’s music everyone knows.
Front and centre in Prime Music is playlists – lots of them. 50 Great #1 Singles, 50 Great Australian Classics, 50 Great Guilty Pleasures (yes, it includes Rick Astley!) and so on. No matter what era, genre or mood, there’s probably a playlist for it here. Amazon claims to have over 2000 of them.
And that’s impressive, considering how small the actual music library is. Don’t get us wrong, there’s tons of music on here. Amazon’s claim is 2 million songs, which sounds really impressive – until you realise that the full service offers over 50 million! Still, even with a much lower song count, they’re managed to put together a good spread of artists and albums. For example, if you search for Midnight Oil, there’s five of their albums available – including the best one, 10,9,8… – but not all of them. The latest release is advertised right up the top of their artist page, but to listen to it requires an upgrade to Music Unlimited.
Or U2, as another example – only three albums are on offer, but they’re good ones. Michael Jackson, same scenario. If you want a comprehensive library of an artist’s stuff, you’ll have to pay for the full service – but if it’s the hits you’ve come for, chances are they’re right here at no extra charge.
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Does Amazon Prime Music Have Unique Content?
The only exclusives here are the playlists and radio stations – and you know what? That’s perfectly okay, because they’ve been put together with plenty of care and intelligence, and those 50-song lists provide a good three and a half hours of music each – perfect for sticking on in the background while you do other things.
The radio stations, meanwhile, just provide a continuous stream of music that matches your genre of choice – everything from EDM to religious songs is covered here, too!
It might seem like a small thing, but any music streaming service can be judged by how good its playlists are, and Amazon has clearly put some care and attention into the ones here, as well as in selecting which artists and albums are part of the Prime Music offering.
The User Experience
For those on desktop or laptop computers, the obvious way to access Prime Music is directly via the Amazon web site in your browser – but if, like us, you prefer to have an app you can load up and have sitting in the background playing music, the good news is that there is one for Amazon prime Music (and Music Unlimited). The weird news is that it’s not available in Australia from the Windows 10 store yet, for reasons unknown. Instead, you have to download it from Amazon’s support site and install it manually. We did manage to get hold of the Windows 10 app – it’s easy to grab from the US Windows app store just by temporarily changing regions – but despite recognising our account as an active Prime Music one, it refused to play anything unless we subscribed to Music Unlimited. Uninstalling that and then trying the manual install from Amazon’s site, though, worked fine. It’s worth tracking the app down, regardless – it’s a much better way of listening to Prime Music than the web site, a very stylish and functional app indeed.
The news is better on mobile devices, where apps are available for iOS and Android – and they’re excellent. Very stylishly designed and easy to use, they give you direct access to playlists, radio stations and your saved albums and songs.
One limitation it’s important to be aware of, though, is that there appears to be a limit on how much music you can stream from Prime Music each month – it’s currently listed as 40 hours per month. This is a bit of a strange one – the Prime Music service in other countries has no such limitation as far as we can see, though Prime does cost substantially more in those countries. Still, the idea seems to be that if you want to use Amazon’s music streaming all day, every day, they’d like you to upgrade to the full Music Unlimited service, at least for the time being.
What Devices Work with Prime Music?
Amazon Prime Music is currently accessible across plenty of devices – not as many as the overseas service is, but we expect that to change just as it has with Prime Video. Currently you can stream Prime Music on:
- Amazon Echo devices
- Amazon Music for Web (https://music.amazon.com.au)
- iOS devices (with iOS 9.0 and above)
- Windows 10 (with app downloaded from Amazon)
- Android smartphones and tablets (v.4.4 and above)
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire TV Stick Basic Edition
Listening on Echo devices as well as with the iOS and Android apps, you can change songs and playlists using Alexa voice commands, too – especially useful with the Echos, as you can skip tracks you don’t like or turn up the volume without ever having to get up from the couch.
Is Amazon Prime Music Worth It?
If you’re already fully into music streaming, you probably subscribe to one or more of the existing services, and so getting access to Amazon Prime Music via your Prime subscription might not seem like that big a deal – though once you check out the many and varied playlists and genre radio stations you might change your mind!
Where this product really shines, though, is as an introduction to music streaming for those who haven’t quite bothered to sign up for it in the past, who maybe listen to broadcast radio and are fed up with all the ads and talk in between the songs. Amazon provides you with a well-designed, well curated selection of music and playlists that offers many hours of entertainment – and an easy upgrade path to the full service if you like what you hear (a service that’s discounted if you own one of Amazon’s Echo devices, by the way!).
It’s yet another thing added to the increasingly great-value Prime subscription – which is worth it for the free shipping alone, not to mention the excellent video streaming service, the free eBooks and now your own personal instant radio station. Be sure to check it out!