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Music streaming is all the rage these days. With Spotify, for example, you get a lot of value as a free user, but if you upgrade to a paid account, you get a ton of advanced functionality too. But there’s one service that tends to get left out when music streaming is discussed: Amazon Prime Music.
It launched in 2014 to a lackluster reception, mainly because it lacked some of the awesome features in all the other streaming services out there. However, if you’ve never actually given Prime Music a try, there are several compelling reasons why you should at least consider it.
So let’s take a look. Maybe you’ll be reassured that your current music streaming service of choice really is the right service for you — or maybe you’ll realize the exact opposite. Either way, Prime Music deserves much more credit than it’s currently getting! Read on to find out why.
1. The Subscription Is Really Cheap
There’s only one way to get Prime Music, and that’s through an Amazon Prime subscription, which, in the U.S., will set you back $99 for the entire year. On a per-month basis, that’s the equivalent of an $8.25 subscription, which is insanely cheap compared to its competitors.
In fact, its three main adversaries — Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music All Access — all have the same price at $10-per-month. No matter which alternative you choose, Prime Music will always be the cheapest option. It’s the difference between $99 every year or $120 every year, which is a small but not insignificant expense.
If you’re a student, you can save even further with Amazon Prime Student, which comes with a six-month free trial and a 50 percent discount when the trial ends. Meanwhile, Spotify and Google Play Music have one-month free trials and Apple Music has a three-month free trial. Of the three, only Spotify has a special student discount.
The real kicker here is that nearly half of U.S. households already have Amazon Prime. That means, for all intents and purposes, Prime Music is completely free if you’re already a Prime member. This could be the difference between spending $99 per year for Prime Music or $99 + $120 per year for Prime and another music streaming service.
2. It Has a Lot of Great Features
Prime Music was the last big player to join the game, so the developers had ample time to “steal” and implement all of the features that make services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music as useful as they are.
But before we dive into that, let’s check out the different interfaces. As of now, Prime Music is accessible through a Web player, a desktop player, and mobile apps on both Android and iOS.
Coming from Spotify, as I personally did, Prime Music’s Web player definitely feels… different. Its design is more minimal and straightforward than other Web players, and that makes it slightly boring at first glance, but it’s very practical and it works well. That’s ultimately what matters, right?
As I use it more, I find myself liking the Prime Music aesthetic more. It’s surprisingly easy to navigate, and no matter what you want to do, it’s never more than a few clicks away. The same can’t be said for most other Web players.
Like the Web player, Prime Music’s desktop player is really good when it comes to usability. In some ways, it feels like a mobile app that was properly adapted for desktop use — simplistic, tab-driven, and lots of breathing room. Navigation is easy, nothing is overly cluttered, and it even has a soft dark theme that’s pleasant to the eyes.
I tend to prefer Web players for music, but in this case, I’m leaning towards the desktop player because it has better performance. The difference may not be noticeable on a brand new computer with strong specs, but even on a run-of-the-mill laptop like mine, Prime Music is smooth, responsive, and lovely.
I have nothing bad to say about the mobile app for Prime Music. It’s fast, clean, and intuitive enough to navigate without any frustration. And what really impresses me is the 13 MB app size, which is tiny compared to the usual sizes of music player mobile apps.
As for the service itself, Prime Music maintains a collection of roughly 1 million songs that you can stream on demand. This falls short of the industry average of 15 million songs, and way short of the 30 million songs available on services like Spotify and Tidal. But even so, it’s not as bad as it seems.
For example, Spotify and Tidal are available in most countries in the Americas, Western Europe, and Oceania, which means a lot of their songs are foreign to U.S. audiences. Meanwhile, Prime Music is mostly aimed at U.S. audiences, so it doesn’t feature much foreign music. The selection is small, nobody can deny that, but it’s mostly relevant.
You can organize Prime Music songs into your own playlists, or you can listen to the hundreds of expert-curated Prime Playlists designed around moods and activities like Relaxation, Travel, Study & Reading, Party, Energetic, and more.
Offline playback — the ability to download songs to your mobile device and listen even when you aren’t connected to the Internet — is one of the most-loved features to appear in the last five years, so it’s good to know that Prime Music has it too. (Due to digital rights management, downloaded songs can only be accessed with the Prime Music app.)
And then there are Prime Stations, which are online radio stations with no advertisements and unlimited skips for your convenience. The more you listen and rate songs, the more personalized these stations will become for you, which might seem familiar if you’ve ever used a service like Pandora.
As for audio quality, songs may be delivered to you at bit-rates between 48 Kbps and 320 Kbps, which is potentially higher than the average standard of 256 Kbps. In every Prime Music player, you can choose between four settings:
- Low: Lowest bit-rate but uses the least bandwidth.
- Medium: Balanced between bit-rate and bandwidth usage.
- High: Highest bit-rate but uses the most bandwidth.
- Auto: Changes depending on your network quality.
So as you can see, despite Prime Music’s smaller selection of songs, it holds up well when all other features are taken into consideration. If you can get over the relatively limited selection, Prime Music is actually pretty darn good.
3. You Can Buy Songs or Add Your Own
One of the big weaknesses of most music streaming services is that if a song is missing from their selections, you’re pretty much out of luck as a listener. We all felt this on Spotify when Taylor Swift withheld her latest album and when Adele followed in her footsteps, but it could happen anywhere else too.
Prime Music offers an easy solution: if a song or album is missing and you have a copy, just upload to your account.
Prime Music is built on top of Amazon Music, formerly known as Amazon MP3, which was an online music locker (basically a cloud where you could store your own MP3s). This integration makes perfect sense because now you can use one app to stream both Prime Music and your own library of music.
And because music files are uploaded to Amazon, your music stays synchronized across all of your Prime Music apps, including the Web player, desktop player, and mobile apps. How many music files can you upload? Only 250 songs, but that limit can expand to 250,000 songs for just $25 per year.
Or you can just buy songs and albums straight from Amazon. These get added to your Prime Music account and do not count towards your upload limit. Since Prime Music is “free” for most people (those who already have Amazon Prime), this actually isn’t all that unreasonable.
And yes, as you can see above, you can shop for music right from within whichever player you’re using, including the mobile apps.
4. You Get More Than Just Music
Prime Music is “the only music streaming service with free two-day shipping”, a statement that seems weird and funny at first, but if you think about it, it really proves why everyone should at least consider giving it a try — Amazon Prime is incredible value.
If you already have an Amazon Prime account, you already have access to everything below. But if you have always avoided Prime Music because you didn’t think it was worth the price, consider all of these extra benefits that you get along with your subscription:
- Free two-day shipping to anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Free same-day delivery is available to 16 metro areas across the country as long as your order meets a few criteria.
- Prime Pantry: Purchase grocery, household, and pet items to anywhere in the contiguous U.S. for a flat delivery fee of $6.
- Free cloud storage for video, photo, and document files up to a limit of 5 GB. A viable alternative to services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
- Prime Photos: Unlimited photo storage with Amazon Cloud Drive. Photos uploaded to the cloud will not count towards the storage limit of your account. Stored photos may only be used for personal, non-commercial use.
- Prime Video: TV and movie streaming service, like Netflix and Hulu. Has a wide selection, plus a number of original series, which make it a great service for cutting the cord.
- Kindle First: Every month, you’re presented with a handful of new eBooks and you can choose to download one of them for free. This usually covers several genres so there’s always something that might interest you. Only available to members in the U.S.
- Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: Every month, you can borrow one Kindle eBook for free and read it on any Kindle-compatible device. There are no due dates for borrowed eBooks and they can be returned at any time, but you must return them before you can borrow another.
Some of these benefits may not be available if you’re using an Amazon Prime Student account. Nevertheless, it’s mind-boggling how much you actually get in addition to Prime Music, and all for a price that’s less than music-only alternatives.
Prime Music: It’s Better Than You Think
We understand that Prime Music isn’t the right choice for everyone. However, we are convinced that Prime Music is a fantastic option for a lot of people, even some who consider themselves to be die-hard fans of other, similar services.
Anyone who has Amazon Prime should check out Prime Music right away, and anyone who doesn’t have it should sign up for the free trial. The only real downside is the smaller music selection, but if you can live with that, the lower price tag and the extra benefits are strong reasons to switch.
If this post has done nothing more than solidify your love for Spotify, Apple Music, or even Tidal, no problem! Just be sure that you aren’t using Spotify wrong and that you maximize your enjoyment with these Spotify tips and tricks.
For more on Amazon Prime, here’s how you can get some of the best Amazon Prime Day deals.
Image Credits: Amazon Logo by rvlsoft via Shutterstock