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Amazon Prime’s limited choice streaming service preparing for launch

By | Published on Friday 30 May 2014

Amazon Prime

Amazon’s previously mooted move into streaming music could go live next month, in the US at least, according to sources who have spoken to BuzzFeed. And if it doesn’t go live in June, it should do in July.

As previously reported, Amazon has been in talks with the labels for a few months now about adding music services to its Amazon Prime customer club set-up. Although the scheme was originally all about providing benefits to mail-order customers, mainly free delivery, Amazon has been slowly shifting its video streaming and e-book loan services over to Prime, seemingly with a view to providing a one-stop music, movie, TV and e-book platform under the brand.

And Amazon does seem willing to increase the subscription prices of Prime to cover the costs of providing all that digital content, though only to a point. Indeed, in seems likely that Amazon will want to provide all of its Prime services for a monthly subscription in the region of ten dollars/pounds/euros – ie the going rate for signing up to Spotify, Deezer, Beats et al, which just provide the music bit. Which has made Amazon’s negotiations with the labels interesting, with the money on the table significantly less than the record companies have been used to when discussing new streaming services.

But Amazon’s big plan is to only licence a small catalogue of tunes, rather than going for the five million, no ten million, no 20 million tracks that has become the norm in the streaming sector, possibly reckoning that the more mainstream consumer doesn’t actually want or need a Spotify-sized catalogue of music. Although it’s not currently clear quite how ’boutique’ the Amazon Prime music selection will be, it is thought that new albums won’t appear until at least six months after release.

Word has it that both Sony Music and Warner Music are now on board for the limited-choice service, though it’s not clear if the deal with Universal has been inked. A smattering of indies are also reportedly signed up, though that will likely be via distributors, with the bigger independents previously indicating that they were being offered a particularly poor deal in Amazon Prime talks.

While Amazon’s streaming ambitions clearly won’t see the mega-etailer go head-to-head with the more conventional streaming services, or certainly not at launch, as the streaming start-ups increasingly push for mass market custom they might find an even limited music offer within Amazon Prime stops mainstream consumers from investing a full ten pounds a month just for tunes.