It’s Ok Amazon, Canada is used to being snubbed (not really). Amazon launched their widely anticipated music streaming service yesterday and like their streaming video service, it’s not available north of the border.
Amazon Music Unlimited is available to U.S. customers, bringing its catalog of “tens of millions of songs” for $9.99 US a month. The price drops to $7.99 for people who are members of Amazon Prime, the company’s premium service that offers faster delivery. Exclusively for owners of Amazon Echo the service further drops to an almost crazy $4 US a month. That offer of course doesn’t include Canadians, who are free to pay for a Prime membership but don’t get the video and music streaming that has come to be synonymous with the service in the U.S. The Amazon Echo, although still not officially announced in Canada, can be purchased (see tips on buying an Echo) and does work well (albeit somewhat limited) in the great white north.
The company said in a press release it plans to roll out the music service in the U.K., Germany and Austria later this year but again, no mention of Canada.
Is music streaming the next big thing? According to data from U.S. ratings firm Nielsen, more than half of people who subscribe to a streaming service do it for an audio service like Spotify, Pandora or Rdio— not video, such as Netflix or CraveTV. Digital downloading is down by almost a quarter, while streaming is up almost 60 per cent this year compared to last, Nielsen says.
The strategy seems obvious. Amazon is using services like Music Unlimited both as revenue generators but also as a way to get people to sign up for Prime, which might compel them to buy more online. The Amazon Echo platform plays an important part of that strategy in generating a loyal locked-in customer base. Despite the low price for Echo-only subscriptions, Amazon and the music labels are likely betting that consumers will be motivated to upgrade so they can listen on more devices.
When this market strategy is finally proven, it’s almost certain Amazon will make a play for Canada. “Alexa, when is infinity?”