Over at Recode, Peter Kafka says Amazon wants to undercut Apple and Spotify for music streaming—sort of:
Amazon wants to launch a music subscription service that would work the same way services from Apple, Spotify and many others work: $10 a month, for all the music you can stream, anywhere you want to stream it.
But Amazon is also working on a second service that would differ in two significant ways from industry rivals: It would cost half the price, and it would only work on Amazon’s Echo hardware.
Industry sources say Amazon would like to launch both services in September, but has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers. One sticking point, sources say, is whether Amazon will sell the cheaper service for $4 or $5 a month.
At first blush, this sounds kind of crazy. But, having used my Echo quite a bit for music playback, it’s actually not as wild as it might seem. While it may not have the best audio quality in the business, the Echo’s good enough for most casual listeners, and the ability to just say “play Don’t Stop Believin’” and have your house immediately filled with the dulcet tones of Journey is pretty amazing.
This sort of works right now, since Amazon offers Prime Music for streaming, but that catalog is pretty limited, and most Echo owners have at one time or another ended up in a situation where a music request is prefaced by that dire disclaimer: “Here’s a sample from Prime Music…”
I also often end up connecting my iPhone to my Echo to play music from my iTunes library—the Echo has the most convenient Bluetooth connectivity of pretty much any device I’ve ever encountered—but that has its own problems. Chief among them, that I can’t then tell the Echo to play songs by voice; I either have to use my phone or Siri.
Would I be willing to pay $4 or $5 a month to avoid those situations? Maybe I would. Even if it didn’t work on my phone or any other devices—hey, at least they’re not charging me another $10 a month.