In control: Amazon’s offer will target the homes with a smart speaker, such as Alexa
Internet giant Amazon is aiming to break the music-streaming stranglehold held by Spotify with a new free service to be launched later this year.
Two thirds of all the music we now listen to is piped over the internet – known as streaming – to mobile phones, smart speakers and hi-fi equipment.
Amazon’s offer will target the one in six homes with a smart speaker – enabling people to ask a remote assistant such as Alexa to play their favourite music from an online library containing millions of tunes. Currently, Amazon Music Unlimited costs £9.99 a month and offers unlimited access to 50 million songs.
Members of the one-day delivery service Amazon Prime – who pay £7.99 a month or £79 a year – also get access to two million tracks through Prime Music as part of the package. Both these services can be played by Alexa using Echo smart speakers.
The free service, launched in the US last month, is simply known as Amazon Music and can also be used by Alexa-enabled devices. The tech giant is remaining tight-lipped about when this offer will also be rolled out in Britain but experts believe it will be in the autumn.
Amazon hopes that a free service will attract even more users and help it grab a bigger slice of a growing market worth £1.3 billion a year.
Spotify has more than 100 million paying subscribers worldwide plus a further 117 million who enjoy the service for free by agreeing to adverts being played between the tunes. The next biggest competitor is Apple Music – which has half the number of paid subscribers.
Only last month, Google launched its own free YouTube Music service that can be heard on Google Home speakers for those willing to put up with ads. Swedish company Spotify and others, such as French firm Deezer, already offer free streaming on the same basis.
Offering ‘free’ music is a way of luring in customers in the hope that at some later stage they will be prepared to pay £10 a month or more for extras such as being able to download music. Gennaro Castaldo, of the British Phonographic Industry, says: ‘Offering a free option is a smart move that will expand the market.’
Before handing over any money, try out a few streaming services. Even those that charge a monthly fee usually offer a free trial.