Amazon launches new streaming music service for Prime members

Amazon’s newly announced music streaming service is another attempt by the company to move beyond e-commerce and infuse itself into Americans’ lives.
By RYAN NAKASHIMA, Associated Press Published: June 13, 2014
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Amazon’s newly announced music streaming service is yet another attempt by the company to move beyond e-commerce and infuse itself into the daily lives of Americans with an increasing number of offerings — including grocery delivery and streaming TV.

The announcement comes just days ahead of the expected unveiling of the company’s first smartphone.

Starting Thursday, Amazon.com Inc. is offering more than a million tracks for ad-free streaming and download to Kindle Fire tablets, as well as to computers and the Amazon Music app for Apple and Android devices. The service, called Prime Music, is likely to be integrated with an Amazon smartphone expected to be previewed on Wednesday.

People who pay $99 a year for an Amazon Prime membership can listen to tens of thousands of albums from artists including Beyonce, The Lumineers, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for no extra cost. By adding music, Amazon is hoping to hook new customers and retain existing ones on its Prime free-shipping plan, which also allows subscribers to watch streams of movies and TV shows, and gives Kindle owners a library of books they can borrow once a month.

But the service has far fewer songs than services like Spotify or Rhapsody, and no deal with top-ranked Universal Music Group.

Steve Boom, Amazon’s vice president of digital music, said the service will pay for itself and isn’t part of the reason why the company raised the price of Prime from $79 in March — a move Amazon said would cover higher shipping costs. Instead, the company will benefit because Prime members tend to buy more from Amazon and remain loyal customers.

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Added Prime benefits

The company boosted its Prime two-day shipping membership program annual fee from $79 to $99 in March to offset higher shipping costs. Since then, it has been adding services to Prime membership to attract customers and encourage existing customers to spend more.

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