Amazon Music expands to 100+ million songs, but there’s a catch

Headphones on yellow background - Amazon Music changes

Amazon recently increased its Amazon Music streaming library to over 100 million songs for Prime subscribers, although its functionality is frustrating users.

Up from two million songs, Amazon Music now includes a massive amount of music and ad-free podcasts if you’re subscribed to Prime, currently $6.99 a month. However, you can only listen to music via shuffle play. So, you can choose which artist, album, or playlist to tune into, but not the order each track plays. It’s a mildly annoying feature that might cause friction if you like listening to carefully curated playlists or experiencing an album from start to finish.

Of course, the shuffle-centric design choice isn’t by accident. It’s a dangling carrot to sign up to Amazon Music Unlimited which lets you play any song in any order. There’s currently a three-month free trial for the service, after which it costs $11.99 a month separate from a Prime subscription. For comparison, that’s the same price as Spotify Premium, while Apple Music costs $12.99 per month – although you can bundle this with other Apple services via Apple One which effectively makes it cheaper.

Some Amazon Music users reported issues following the changes to the service, including losing access to purchased music and difficulties finding playlists. Meanwhile, Amazon Music Unlimited offers “Ultra High Definition” streaming quality up to 24-bit 192 kHz, in addition to spatial audio features. Making the base-level music streaming service shuffle-only appears to be a strategy to drive Unlimited subscriptions.

It remains to be seen how Amazon’s changes will impact its music subscription numbers and whether people will upgrade or flock to another service. With multiple subscription services outside of Prime, including Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited, and Audible, perhaps the global monolith will consider an all-in-one solution like Apple One. Regardless, the streaming landscape is fragmented enough as it is, which only makes it more difficult for us consumers to choose.

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