Amazon, looking to reel in more members to Prime, is dramatically boosting the number of songs available under the membership program — from 2 million previously to its full catalog of 100 million tracks. Amazon Music for Prime also is adding “hundreds of thousands” of podcast episodes ad-free, which has been the No. 1 request from customers who are podcast listeners, including Wondery’s entire slate of shows.
But there’s a catch.
With the expanded song library, Prime members listening on Amazon Music will mostly be limited to shuffle-play mode, based on artist, album or playlist, whereas previously the 2 million songs were available to stream on-demand. Amazon noted that Prime users will be able to play songs on-demand via “All-Access” playlists, which are personalized based on their listening preferences, and can download them for offline listening.
To get full on-demand access and offline listening, customers will need to pay extra for the Amazon Music Unlimited tier, which is currently $9.99/month for non-Prime members and $8.99/month with Prime. The Unlimited plan also provides songs in HD and a growing number of tracks in Ultra HD audio and spatial audio.
Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music, said Prime members have long asked for access to the full 100-million song catalog. He acknowledged that the licensing terms for shuffle-play vs. on-demand access from the music companies are different but declined to get into the specifics. “This is about improving the Prime experience, not about Amazon cutting costs,” he said.
The overarching goal, Boom said, is to enhance the value of Prime membership. In the U.S., the program costs $139 per year (or $14.99 per month) and, in addition to free shipping on millions of products, includes access to Prime Video, Amazon Music and other perks.
On the podcast front, Prime members now have access through Amazon Music to a wide selection of ad-free podcasts. Those include Wondery’s premium shows like “Dr. Death,” “Business Wars,” “SmartLess” and “Even the Rich”; podcasts from partners including NPR, the New York Times, CNN, ESPN, Slate and Barstool Sports; and Amazon Music-exclusive shows.
Amazon Music’s exclusive podcasts include “MrBallen Podcast: Strange, Dark & Mysterious Stories,” “Suspect Season 2: Vanished in the Snow,” “Cold Season 3: The Search for Sheree,” “Killer Psyche Daily,” “I Hear Fear,” narrated by actor Carey Mulligan, and a weekly bonus episode of “The Old Man and the Three,” hosted by former NBA player JJ Redick. On Nov. 1, Amazon Music will premiere its newest exclusive podcast series: “Baby, This Is Keke Palmer,” a weekly interview show in which the actor-entrepreneur geeks out with friends, family, celebrity guests and experts.
In addition, the Amazon Music app has been updated to add a new Podcast Previews feature, which lets customers hear short, curated soundbites from a podcast episode, designed to help them to quickly discover and find new podcasts.
“This is just the start of this enhanced benefit for Prime members,” said Wondery CEO Jen Sargent, who was elevated to the job after Amazon Music closed its acquisition of the podcast studio and network in early 2021. “The podcast space in general is growing so fast, and we are absolutely looking to grow our catalog of ad-free and exclusive podcasts.”
Wondery+, the $4.99/month premium ad-free subscription service, will remain unchanged, offering early access to new episodes of its shows and podcast-specific features.
The changes to Amazon Music for Prime come as Apple Music, citing increased music-licensing costs, just hiked its prices — with the individual plan going from $9.99 to $10.99/month — and Spotify said it was considering increasing subscription prices in the U.S. Boom declined to say whether the company was contemplating a price hike for Amazon Music Unlimited.
Amazon provided a breakdown of what’s included in the three different options:
- Thousands of stations and playlists
- Millions of podcast episodes
- No credit card required
Amazon Music for Prime Members
- 100 million songs ad-free in shuffle mode
- Access to the most top podcasts ad-free
- Personalized All-Access playlists with on-demand playback and offline listening
- Included with Prime
Amazon Music Unlimited
- On-demand, ad-free access to 100 million songs in HD and Ultra HD quality, plus a catalog of music in spatial audio
- Available with offline listening
- Access to the most top podcasts ad-free
- $9.99/month ($8.99/month for Prime members); family and single-device plans available