Amazon has announced that Prime members now have expanded music access from 2 million to the full 100 million song Amazon Music catalog ad-free without extra cost via Amazon’s “Included with Prime” aka “Music Prime” option. 

As part of Music Prime, Amazon also provides access to most of its ad-free podcast library, including podcasts from Wondery

Tip: To access Music Prime, you have to be a paid Amazon Prime member which also includes free shipping, prime video TVs and shows, and other perks. Amazon Prime Membership is $139/year or $14.99/month

Amazon Music Prime App for Pocasts

The Amazon Music App also has a new look, which includes a Podcast Previews feature. Customers review a short, digestible soundbite from a podcast episode. Podcast Previews delivers curated clips that can introduce new listeners to podcasts, and also make it easier for existing podcast fans to find their favorite ones.

The Catch

On the surface, all the increased access sounds great, but there is a catch.

The catch is that those 100 million songs are only available via Shuffle Play and include songs from other artists in addition to the artist or song you requested.  

This means that the “Music Prime” option now functions like Pandora, where you pick an artist or song but the service controls the songs that are played, more like a radio station than personalized listening. 

Amazon Music Prime App

Also, when you stream Music Prime to an Amazon Echo device it will time out after an hour of no commands. This means you need to “remind” it to play music every hour. This is not handy if you like having background music in your home or office playing continuously all day, or music for parties. 

The previous “Included with Prime” music option was limited to 2 million songs, but you could request a song or artist and it would play just that artist for as long as their songs were available. With this new option, when you ask Alexa to play a song or an artist, it may or may not play that specific song or artist. Instead, what can happen is that it may start playing related songs from your chosen artist or songs from other artists, and eventually get to the song you want. 

You can skip songs, but it doesn’t guarantee that the next song or artist played is the one you want. 

Tip: I have Prime Music and two Echo devices.  When I asked Alexa to play a specific song by a specific artist from Amazon Music, it did start to play that song, so it looks like it may honor your specific request at least some of the time. 

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Music Prime members can also listen to and download preset “All-Access” playlists. The only limitation is that stand-alone albums and songs can’t be downloaded.

It is also important to note that songs played on Music Prime are only available as low quality, compressed MP3 streams. However, it’s interesting to point out Amazon calls this “standard” quality.

Amazon Music Unlimited Logo

Amazon Music Unlimited

If you want full music listening flexibility you need to subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited

Tip: Amazon Music Unlimited is $8.99 per month (single plan) above Amazon Prime membership, or $10 a month for non-prime members. This means that you can subscribe to just Amazon Music Unlimited without paying for other Amazon Prime services. 

Music Unlimited allows subscribers to play any song how they want and also get access to offline downloads and make custom playlists.

Another benefit of the Music Unlimited plan is that subscribers can play HD and Ultra HD tracks (also known as lossless and hi-res audio, respectively) from select albums. In addition, select tracks are available in Spatial Audio (including Dolby Atmos Music and Sony 360 Reality Audio).

Amazon Music Service Tier Overview

Feature Amazon Music Free Amazon Music Prime Amazon Music Unlimited
Cost $0 Free with Prime ($139/year or $14.99/month) $8.99/mo. with Prime
$9.99/mo. without Prime
Amazon Prime Membership Needed No Yes No
Available Titles Discover new music and podcasts based on your likes

Curated playlists on demand for Android and iOS.

Thousands of Stations and top playlists.

Millions of podcast episodes

All the music ad-free.

The most ad-free top podcasts.

All-Access Playlists – pick and play any song on-demand, with no skip limits, or download them to listen offline.

Shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist

Pick and play any song, ad-free.

The most ad-free top podcasts.

Personalized Stations and thousands of playlists

SD, HD, Ultra HD, and Spatial AudioListen offline

Unlimited skips

Note: Amazon Music Unlimited Single-Device Plan doesn’t have access to HD, Ultra HD, or Spatial Audio.

Stations Yes Yes Yes
HD No No Yes
Ultra HD No No Yes
Spatial Audio No No Yes
Ad-free, Unlimited Plays No Yes Yes

Tip: See the expanded version of this chart on Amazon, which shows the differences between Amazon’s music services.

Why The Change?

Except for the 2 million song limit, it seemed like the previous Amazon Prime Music plan was fine as it provided more playback flexibility.

However, Amazon apparently thinks listeners would rather have access to 100 million songs for no extra charge with the trade-off of not having as much control as to how they are played, especially if it is just for background music while doing daily activities. After all, the songs are standard quality (compressed) which is not acceptable for serious music listeners. 

If someone is a serious music fan, then it would be worth it to upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited, which is probably the strategy that Amazon has in mind. It will be interesting to see if the number of Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers goes up as a result or if listeners will just switch to the Pandora and Spotify free tiers – although Amazon Prime Membership is hard to pass up.

Other Amazon Music Plans

Amazon Prime costs $14.99/month or $139/year

Amazon Music HD Drops Upcharge

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