Amazon surprised the music listening world with an announcement of a new feature in their Amazon Prime subscription called Amazon Prime Music, but it’s not nearly as good as the more popular Spotify or Google Play Music. Since Amazon Prime Music’s not quite ready to compete with the other services, we recommend that music lovers stick with Spotify or Google Play Music for now. It’s a nice add-on for those that already subscribe to Amazon Prime, but it’s not good enough to entice people away from the other more popular music streaming services.
Amazon Prime gives users a number of perks in addition to free 2-day shipping or reduced rate one-day shipping on products ordered from Amazon’s large online store. Prime members get access to free streaming video with an attractive and growing selection of older movies and plenty of TV shows, including content recently added from HBO. Users can enjoy these videos on their iPad, Kindle Fire tablets, the new Fire TV and a Roku 3 streaming set-top box.
Now the service adds Amazon Prime Music. The service includes a lot of different genres of music, but it’s not quite ready to compete for a few reasons.
Music Selection Limited
Amazon boasts over a million songs in their streaming service. That’s nice for people who already subscribe to Amazon Prime, but it doesn’t match what Spotify offers users. Google Play Music also gives its subscribers a better selection.
I subscribe to Google Play Music and searched for one of my favorite artists, Billy Joel. Amazon offers a number of songs as part of their streaming music service, but a lot of the songs only show up as available for purchase. All of these songs and albums show up as part of my streaming subscription in Google Play. Spotify streams these songs too, beating Amazon in numbers of songs available.
This problem gets worse for obscure music. Search for a song that’s not in the Top 40, or wasn’t when it came out, and it likely won’t show up (or will cost extra). Find an album, and usually only a handful of the songs will stream as part of the streaming service. The rest of the songs require an additional purchase.
It seems like Amazon didn’t design Amazon Prime Music to give people a comprehensive steaming music service like Spotify or Google Play Music. Instead, they give users a sampling of songs from their favorite artists and hope to entice us to buy more music from Amazon. It feels like a bait-and-switch.
Amazon Prime Music App
The Spotify and Google Play Music apps run well and don’t crash. In less than a day since I downloaded the Android version of the Amazon Prime Music app, it’s crashed a dozen times. With a weak data signal it won’t load at all. If I download some music to play when I’m offline, I can’t listen to it using the app unless I’ve got a good signal when I first launch the app.
It looks like the iOS version suffers similar issues. Reading reviews on the iTunes store, we see that one person had to delete and reinstall to get the app working. Another person said the app often wouldn’t load content correctly. Reviews in the Google Play Store report similar problems and a general unhappiness about the app’s design.
Google Play Music and Spotify both launch fine, even when my data signal is weak. I can play downloaded songs and enjoy them offline without issue the vast majority of the time.
Finally, even with a good signal the app still crashes. Every time my phone connects to the Handsfree Bluetooth in my Honda CRV and the Car Home Ultra app runs, Amazon Prime Music crashes. Some might blame Car Home Ultra, but it worked great with the old Amazon music app.
Amazon Prime Music Only For Prime Members
Amazon tied their music service to their Prime membership subscriptions. Most will consider this a good thing since users get more for their $100/year Amazon Prime membership. People only get music for $10/month on Spotify or Google Play Music. Those subscription fees total $120 for one year and don’t offer the video streaming and shipping discounts.
What if a person doesn’t want to buy stuff from Amazon and prefers Netflix or some other video streaming service?
The large up front investment required with a $100 payment to get Amazon Prime membership will limit potential buyers too.
Amazon Prime Music gives Prime members a little more for their money. It doesn’t offer a music service that will compete with Google Play or Spotify until Amazon improves their selection and their app. Until then, I’ll keep Google Play Music and recommend that subscribers with Spotify do the same.