Amazon is expanding its Prime Music service today with the launch of a new collection of exclusive acoustical recordings from a number of artists, both established and up-and-coming. At launch, there are just over 30 recordings being made available, which is accessible by way of the Amazon Music app on iOS, Android, Android Fire devices, Amazon’s connected speaker Echo, or online at the Prime Music website.
Included in the “Amazon Acoustics” collection are several artists performing covers of well-known songs, like Joshua Radin doing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” Surfer Blood doing Outkast’s “Hey Ya!,” Jessie Baylin doing Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me,” and Tokyo Police Club doing a version of their own, “Argentina (Part I) [Acoustic].” Other tracks include newly written songs, like Deer Tick’s “Grandfather Song,” which didn’t make the cut for its 2013 album but is now available as a part of this collection.
While Prime Music is one of the member-only benefits that comes with the $99 annual subscription to Amazon Prime, Amazon is also making the new songs available to Amazon shoppers for a limited time via its website. Visitors to Amazon’s site will be able to play the songs while they shop, through a pop-out player on the web page.
While a minor addition to a much larger streaming service that today features over a million songs and more than a thousand playlists, Amazon’s decision to augment its service with an exclusive collection comes at a time when there’s increasing competition in the streaming music space. With Apple Music’s launch, rival services like Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and others are waiting to see how many subscribers will switch over to Apple’s offering instead of their own. And many of these services are trying to win their own exclusives in order to win over fans. (This is newcomer TIDAL’s strategy, but thankfully, not Apple’s.)
Meanwhile, Amazon’s Prime Music has been more of side business for the online retailer, rather than an attempt to own the streaming music space. At least, for now.
But some may not realize that Amazon already has record label experience of its own – it backed the soundtrack for “Transparent,” and it rolled out its own Christmas album “All is Bright” featuring acts like Liz Phair, Yoko Ono, The Flaming Lips and others. And now it’s running homepage ads promoting its new acoustic playlist. Because it can.
However, even if Amazon hasn’t really put forth a serious effort at dominating this space, it’s possible that it may at some point stop dabbling with regard to its music ambitions and put more fuel behind the fire – as it has more recently with its Amazon Studios arm, which is responsible for its growing range of exclusive programs, like Emmy-nominated “Transparent,” for example. And Amazon Prime Instant Video just scored the “Top Gear” team this week, beating out Netflix and other broadcasters to the tune of $250 million.
Imagine what Amazon could do if it actually started caring about music?