Amazon Music Unlimited review: A credible alternative to Spotify and Apple Music

"It's clever. You can ask for 'sad indie music from the nineties'"

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The Independent Tech

It’s only a few weeks since Amazon launched its full-catalogue music service in the States and today it’s arriving on our shores (a very quick trip across the Atlantic in Amazon terms).

It’s a 40-million track streaming package set to rival Spotify and Apple Music. And if you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber or have the voice-controlled Amazon Echo or Echo Dot devices, there are special prices, to boot.

The regular price is £9.99 a month, the same as Spotify and Apple Music. But Prime subscribers pay £7.99 a month or £79 a year.

If you have an Echo, you can choose to have Amazon Music Unlimited streamed to one Echo or Echo Dot speaker, it’s just £3.99 a month. But it is limited just to one device, though since an Echo gizmo can be linked to a Bluetooth speaker, you aren’t restricted to the Echo Dot’s limited audio capabilities.

If you find one device only is too limited, you can upgrade to the full price easily which lets you stream to multiple phones, tablets and computers. The app is available for iPhone, Android and Amazon devices as well as Mac and PC.

Appropriately enough, the “for Echo” subscription is set up by voice. You ask the speaker to “start my Amazon Music Unlimited free trial” and you’re away.

Where the service hopes to impress is in the breadth of its accessibility. So if you know a lyric from a song but not the track title, you can ask Alexa (the name of the Amazon Echo personal assistant) and she’ll try and find it.

Saying, “Alexa, play that song that goes ‘I got that sunshine in my pocket’ ” means that the Echo starts streaming the Justin Timberlake song, Can’t Stop the Feeling.

It’s also clever when it comes to genres. You can ask for “sad indie music from the nineties” and it’ll come up with a bunch of tracks. The Amazon music staff have categorised songs by date of release, or re-release, by genre and by mood.

If you’re listening on your smartphone, the app not only includes the song’s lyrics but shows them at the exact moment they’re being sung. Scrolling through the lyrics advances the song accordingly.

Current Amazon Prime subscribers already have access to a music service but it’s more limited – around two million tracks. Still, that may be enough for some and prove a harder sell to these customers.

It is available now and has other extras such as Side By Side where artists have recorded commentaries for their songs, exclusively for Amazon Music Unlimited.

If you haven’t got round to subscribing to Spotify or Apple Music, this is a credible alternative. If you are already a Prime customer and especially if you have an Echo, the lower prices make this a good-value, feature-packed service.

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