Amazon’s previously useless Amazon MP3 app has been updated to Amazon Music, a Prime-enabled music streaming service free for all Amazon Prime customers. The announcement comes shortly after Apple’s purchase of Beats, the sale of which was more to acquire their streaming audio service than their headphones business. It also comes just a week before Amazon is expected to reveal their purported Kindle smartphone.

How Does It Work?

Amazon Music, available for iOS and Android starting today for free, does not allow users to purchase music or stream radio stations. Rather, the app is geared towards providing Prime users with a platform to experience curated playlists and full albums for free, available either for stream or download. It’s very similar to Microsoft’s Zune service, which was replaced by Xbox Music and allowed monthly subscribers to download any music they wanted so long as they retained their membership. Upon ending the service, users were only able to keep the music credits that they received, which averaged half of the month’s cost.

It’s unclear whether Amazon will cut Prime users off from their music, since none of it is paid for directly. Prime membership affords a number of services, including free two-day shipping and Prime Instant Video, among others. Prime Instant Video is already highly competitive with Netflix and downloading services like iTunes, and jumping into music with Prime is another huge offering.

Does It Meet the Hype?

I’ve used Amazon Music all morning, and I think I’ve found a new love. The problem with music streaming services is that they work on algorithms to determine what music is similar and fits your tastes. Pandora, Spotify and iTunes Radio are the biggest streaming services, and each works well in certain respects, but require user input to get the stations just right, which takes time. This is particularly strange because music is a wholly shared experience; there’s always someone else who has the same taste in music, at least within genres. Other streaming services don’t provide that, but Amazon Music does through its curated playlists.

I downloaded 20 different available playlists and scanned through the track lists, and I like about 90 percent of the tracks for each playlist and think that they are 95 percent correct. Tracks match their genre and, more importantly, their type: genres like Rock or Jazz are simplistic; types are much harder to distinguish, and curating the music does exactly that. So far, Amazon has done a tremendous job with it.

If you’re an Amazon Prime user, definitely download the free Amazon Music app from the App Store or Play Store, use it straight through your browser, or pick it up on the Kindle App Store. The launch library is surprisingly comprehensive as well.

What do you think of Prime Music? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flickr




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