Amazon is reportedly planning to launch a free music streaming service before April ends, according to Billboard. The company is apparently in talks with major music labels to provide ad-supported streaming service that would offer a limited catalog of songs.
The service would be made available through its Alexa voice assistant on the company's Echo line of devices. By the sound of it, this service resembles Spotify's free tier, which is also supported with ad breaks between songs but lacks features such as offline downloads, unlimited skips, and more. It's not clear if these options would be absent from Amazon's free service, as well.
Amazon is no stranger to music services. In fact, it currently offers two streaming options: Prime Music that's stacked on top of $119-a-year Prime memberships at no extra cost, or Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $9.99 a month. The latter has a larger library of songs and doesn't require a Prime membership.
Amazon doesn't disclose how many subscribers it has on services, but reports say the company has more than 20 million subscribers between its two music streaming options.
Amazon has offered record labels a pay-per-stream revenue model regardless of how much advertising the company sells, according to Billboard. It's not clear which record labels it has approached, and the company has yet to comment on the alleged service.
In any case, the move highlights Amazon's growing power in the music market and would render it an even more formidable candidate in the streaming wars. Spotify currently has the biggest subscriber count globally, but Apple Music recently announced it has accrued the most number of subscribers in the United States.
Right now, Spotify is the only major music subscription service that offers a free tier, which is key to enticing new subscribers to pay for the premium tier. 116 million people listen to Spotify for free, and that's because it lets listeners hear particular albums or artists on demand, though they can't control the order of songs. Apple Music, by contrast, doesn't offer a free tier.
Amazon's biggest advantage is that it can afford to discount music even if it loses money. That's something Spotify doesn't have, and it continuously struggles to turn in a profit year after year. It's interesting to see how Amazon's service might disrupt the music streaming landscape. Make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.