Amazon has made exclusive video a component of Prime Instant Video streaming service, its answer to Netflix. Now the company is doing the same with music — sort of.
Amazon quietly debuted last week its first exclusive music release, the 43-track, Christmas-themed All Is Bright, through its Prime Music service. The compilation has both new songs, such as Liz Phair‘s “Ho Ho Ho,” and re-recorded versions of holiday songs by well known artists such as Yoko Ono with The Flaming Lips, Lucinda Williams, Beth Orton, Brandi Carlile and Ashley Monroe. Unlike exclusive Prime Video content, “All Is Bright” is available outside of Prime Membership as MP3 downloads.
If All Is Bright is a larger strategy for exclusive content for Prime Music, Amazon isn’t saying. Steve Boom, vp of digital music for Amazon, tells Billboard the release is simply meant to make shopping better. “Our primary goal with All Is Bright is to do something fun and special during the holidays for our customers.”
All Is Bright is getting some good real estate. Amazon has put a music note with a snowflake at the top of all pages, next to the “sell” link at top center. Hover over the icon and a window appears with the message “Listen free while you shop” and a play button.
The compilation fits neatly with Amazon’s content strategy for Prime Music. Amazon has created original programming for Prime Video and has exclusives not available at Netflix, some via deals with HBO and Viacom.
Amazon Prime provides members with free, two-day shipping for an annual fee of $99 (it’s less for college students). Amazon has over the years added extra features to increase the value of Prime. In addition to Prime Music, launched in June, members get access to Prime Video, rentals of 600,000 Kindle e-books and early access to sales. Subscriptions have grown from 20 million in January to an estimated 40 million to 50 million in September, with 30 million to 40 million coming from the United States, according to one equity analyst.
Anything that adds value to Prime helps Amazon. A RBC Capital Markets survey found Prime members spend 68 percent more than non-Prime members. How much of this difference is the result of prime is not clear — the heaviest spenders would naturally be more likely to want free shipping — but the general belief is Prime induces consumers to spend more at Amazon. With so much money riding on a successful Prime program, spending on exclusive music content makes perfect sense.