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Amazon plans half price streaming service locked to Echo

By | Published on Tuesday 23 August 2016


Amazon is reportedly hoping to offer a mid-priced tier when it properly enters the on-demand streaming market later this year, with the discounted version of the service locked to the firm’s proprietary hardware.

Amazon already offers music streams, of course, as part of its Prime package, though users only have access to a relatively limited catalogue of tracks. But the company is now seeking to enter the streaming music market proper with a standalone service of the Spotify and Apple Music model, which will work in a similar fashion to those competitors, so on-demand access to tens of millions of tracks for ten dollars/pounds/euros a month.

However, according to Recode, the standalone Amazon streaming set up would also offer a package at around the $4/5 price point. This cheaper version would offer access to the same catalogue with the same functionality, but would only work on Amazon’s wireless speaker device Echo, which has proven rather popular since being launched last year.

There have been various attempts at launching a cheaper subscription-based streaming music service over the years, of course, based on the assumption that the majority of consumers will never spend $10 a month on recorded music. The challenge with developing a $5 a month streaming set-up, though, is coming up with a service that is less good than what people already pay $10 a month for, but still better than the free-to-access ad-funded streaming services that are out there.

Some have tried personalised radio without the ads at the $5 price point, while others have offered on-demand streams but with less catalogue or less functionality. Or, as with what Amazon have planned, an ad-free on-demand set-up that works on fewer devices. For example, at one point you could subscribe to Spotify for £5 a month and lose the ads but not gain the extra mobile functionality that comes with £10 a month premium.

None of those mid-range offers have really gained any momentum, possibly because they entered the market too soon, or possibly because the more mainstream consumer is more likely to be attracted not by a cheaper price-point, but by bundling music in with other content-on-demand, as Amazon are already doing with Prime. But still, it will be interesting to see if Amazon finds any takers for its cheaper Echo-only streaming service, assuming the web giant secures the licences it needs from the labels and publishers to launch such a thing.

Elsewhere in mid-price streaming, that start-up pitching itself at more mainstream consumers interested in musical streams but not willing to spend $10 a month – Cür Media – seems to be imploding, perhaps unsurprisingly given that we knew the firm was already struggling to pay the advances it had promised the record companies.

Former Universal exec Jim Urie, who became the company’s interim President, interim CEO and Chairman in May, has departed, as have other board members and pretty much all the firm’s staff. Good times. Bring on some Echo streams, I say.