Amazon is gearing up to launch a free ad-supported tier of its music streaming service soon, if a report out of Billboard is to be believed. According to the article, the trillion-dollar giant will launch a free music subscription service that will compete with Spotify’s free tier and largely focus on compatibility with Echo smart speakers. Of course, other devices will likely be supported as well.
In order for the service to work, Amazon had to get proper licensing agreements with labels. This will result in Amazon paying artists based on streams, hence the reason the retailer will have a limited catalog of music available. In between songs, the company will play ads, theoretically promoting products available through Amazon along with the company’s paid music service. Specifics regarding advertising and streamable artists have yet to be unveiled.
Amazon isn’t exactly a head-on leader when it comes to music streaming, but it’s certainly in the same ballpark as Spotify and Apple Music. Reports indicate Amazon has over 20 million subscribers across its services, with at least a good chunk of them signed on to the company’s music streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited. Meanwhile, Apple Music has 56 million paying subscribers, while Spotify has 96 million paying subs and 116 million free users. Because of this, Amazon is likely looking to grow its subscriber base as much it can, and offering a service for free is probably the way to go.
What’s interesting about today’s report is the fact Amazon will mainly market its free music subscription to Echo owners. If you want to play music on your smart speakers, there’s a really good chance you have to pay for a service if you want something on-demand. Amazon’s upcoming free service could solve that problem by offering a limited amount of artists for no extra cost. I can only imagine Amazon marketing the service as an “added bonus” or included in a “bundle” with an Echo smart speaker. The logistics behind this aren’t yet know, so these are only personal guesses you should take with a grain of salt.
Billboard mentions Amazon might launch the free service as early as this week so be sure to stay tuned.