Talking tech since 2003

Rumors that Amazon is working to bring its Prime customers a new music streaming service continue to swirl. A new report from the Wall Street Journal today says that Amazon may put in playback limits on songs, prompting listeners to buy the tracks once the limit has been reached.

If this plan turns out to be true, it could provide a handy way for Amazon customers to try before they buy. Locking customers into Amazon’s ecosystem when they’re listening to a song could prove to be a great business model for the online retailer, especially when trying to court the less tech savvy among them who don’t already use Spotify.

The rumors of Amazon’s music streaming service came hot on the heels of reports that Amazon Prime’s annual price might increase by roughly $40. So here’s the question: will users want to pay an extra $3 a month for a limited music streaming service? Price hikes are usually a bit more tolerable if there’s something valuable bundled in with it, too. And getting unlimited music streaming—like you get from Spotify for $10 a month—would be great, right?

But paying for a service that prompts you to pay more to keep listening? That might not sit too well with consumers. It sounds a lot like Hulu: the free version lets you play a huge amount of recent video content, with advertisements. But paying the monthly premium for Hulu Plus expands the number of videos you can watch—but keeps the advertisements in. So what are we paying for if we still have to watch ads?

Amazon’s Music Streaming could wind up being another great move, and might provide a great boost to its MP3 sales. And limiting playback could be instrumental in getting record labels to agree to the streaming agreement—something the report says Amazon is still having a hard time sealing the deal on.

But at this point, given these details, the music streaming service doesn’t sound like the best of deals. Generally no one wants to be forced into paying for a service they didn’t ask for, but if they are, it better be worth it.

[Source: WSJ via the Verge]


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