Amazon Plans Standalone Music Streaming Service, Will Bolster Popular Echo Device (Updated)
Digital retailing leader Amazon, when not trying to send people to space, has been working on a spinoff of its anecdotally successful Prime Music "streaming lite" service, according to a report this afternoon from Reuters. The news comes months after a report from the New York Post that Bezos was courting major labels for licensing deals. Amazon recently announced it would allow customers to subscribe to its Prime service, which comes bundled with a music and video streaming service, month-to-month instead of annually. It also announced plans to break off its video streaming platform.
A source tells Billboard that pricing for the service will be $9.99 per month -- unless the customer owns an Echo device, which would bring pricing down to $3 to $5 monthly -- but listening would be limited to that Echo device. Royalty splits would, that source claims, will hew close to the standard 70 percent to rights holders, 30 percent to the service.
One major label source said they were not aware of the new platform, and requests for confirmation from labels and Amazon went unreturned at press time.
"The move to streaming is immense," Amazon's vp of digital music Steven Boom told Billboard last year. "In an always connected world, it’s the way that people want to interact with music. And it’s just gonna keep growing." Asked of the listenership of Amazon Prime Music at the time, Boom would only say that it is used by "several million people" each month.
Prime Music has been defined by its focus on curation and exclusives over the comprehensive catalog of services like Spotify. Earlier this month the company released Songs of Summer, an album of originals and exclusive cover versions of songs like "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay."
These releases certainly seem to point towards a more engaged type of streaming platform. "Let’s have fun with this," Boom said of the company's exclusives. "Let’s get a bunch of artists and give them an opportunity.' Most of those artists were relatively lesser-known artists that we were giving a chance."
A major label source says they've been in talks with Amazon but a deal isn't imminent, making a fall debut doable but unlikely.