Amazon’s music streaming service makes a lot of sense if you’re already embedded into the Amazon ecosystem and have one or more Echo or Fire TV devices. One reason for that is that many songs have lyrics which can be shown in time with the music on your TV, in the Alexa app or on your Echo Show smart display.
Many people think the service is called Prime Music, but that’s only one of three tiers available and is the most limited and Amazon actually calls it Music Prime.
Amazon launched Music HD back in 2019 which offered CD-quality (or better) audio for those who want something other than compressed MP3 quality as well as a selection of ‘3D’ music that can be enjoyed on a speaker such as the Amazon Echo Studio.
So how do they compare? As the Prime part suggests, the first service is included as part of an Amazon Prime membership which costs £79.99/US$139 per year and gives you access to around 2 million songs, a fraction of the 90 million songs you get with Amazon Music Unlimited, which requires its only monthly cost (see full price table below).
As mentioned earlier, Music HD has now been made free for Unlimited users effectively making it just a part of that service. It means that you get much higher quality audio with ‘HD’ (CD quality) or ‘Ultra HD’ with up to 10x the bitrate of songs streamed via the standard Music service – a classic 320kbps.
If you have a good enough internet connection, a device that supports high-quality audio as well as headphones or speakers with a large enough dynamic range, you’ll be listening to Hi-Res Audio. Just note that only nine million tracks are available in Ultra HD.
If you’re not a Prime member, then you can still get Amazon Music for free but via the ad-supported free tier. It includes thousands of free stations and playlists.
Like other streaming services, Amazon Prime Music lets you stream music on demand over your internet connection. That can be on your phone, but it can also be on your computer or via an Amazon Echo smart speaker. The latter is one of the most convenient ways to access Prime Music since you can simply ask Alexa to play a song, album or playlist.
Naturally, you can also download songs and albums to your phone so they can be played offline.
This is where it can get a little confusing, so we’ve put together this handy table – the prices shown are per month.
Single device (Echo or Fire TV)
Amazon Music Prime
£7.99 / $12.99
Amazon Music Unlimited
£9.99 / $8.99
£14.99 / $14.99
£3.99 / $3.99
Those are the monthly prices but as we’ve said, you can pay annually if you are a Prime member, which makes it cheaper. A Prime subscription costs £79.99/US$139 a year which means Prime Music can cost as little as £6.67/$11.58 per month.
The main limitation of the Individual plan is that members of a household all have to share the same playlists and library etc. If you want your own ‘account’ which contains only the music and playlists you like, then you’ll need a Family plan which costs £14.99/$14.99pm. It allows you to stream on up to six devices at the same time.
The outlier is the option to get Music Unlimited on a single Amazon Echo or Fire device for £3.99/$3.99pm. That’s great if you only have one Echo, or only one through which you usually listen to music. But you won’t be able to listen to the full library of 50 million songs on any other Echos you own, nor play those tracks using the Echo’s multiroom audio feature.
There are lots of ways you can listen to Amazon Music. You can ask Alexa to play songs on your Echo, but you can also download the Amazon Music app. This is the same app you’d get if you subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited and it’s simply called Amazon Music.
Here’s what it looks like on an iPhone:
The apps do exactly what you’d expect: you can search for songs, create your own playlists, listen to tracks on demand and download them to your device so you can listen without an internet connection. All of this is with ad-free playback.
One of the tabs in the app is My Music. This houses the music you’ve bought from Amazon, and can include CDs you’ve purchased because of Amazon’s ‘autorip’ feature that gives you access to the MP3 versions.