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Amazon reportedly set to launch music service Thursday

Rumor might be turning to reality once again — soon. Amazon‘s purported new music service will launch this week, according to unnamed sources reported by Claire Atkinson of the New York Post.

Both rumor and common sense say that Amazon’s new music offering will be bundled into the Amazon Prime subscription plan, adding value to the existing slate of streaming movies, TV shows, and free shipping of Amazon purchases. Prime is priced at $99/year ($8.25/month). On-demand music service subscriptions like Spotify Premium generally cost $10/month.

Amazon’s music catalog will not compete head-on with Spotify and its ilk, in at least two ways. First, Atkinson reports that Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest owner of music recordings, is not on board yet. It is perhaps peculiar that Amazon is rushing its music-streaming platform to market with a partial catalog.

Second, previous reports indicate that Amazon is not licensing full label catalogs in any case, but only back catalog that is at least six months old. That tactic, if true, presumably keeps licensing cost lower. It would also be an indicator that the music portion of Prime imitates the movie and TV portions, which do not generally carry first-run content. Amazon might be banking on its users being less picky than a Spotify Premium subscriber. We can easily imagine existing Prime members using Amazon for lightweight on-demand music, supplemented by ad-supported free listening in Spotify, Pandora, and other online radio streams.

Amazon sells music downloads, and presumably there will be tight linkage between its streaming music and song purchases — as is the case with Apple’s iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store.

RAIN will follow up with a review of Amazon’s new foray into music, whenever it is launched.

Brad Hill

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