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It’s official: after months of rumors and anonymous reports, online retail giant Amazon has launched its music streaming service. First mentioned back in February, the music streaming service is called Prime Music, and comes free with Amazon Prime subscriptions.

As part of Prime Music, subscribers will be able to pick and choose what songs they want to play via the Internet, or save songs to their devices (as long as they’re logged into their accounts, of course). They can also choose from pre-made playlists of songs, offering the kind of curatorial attraction that Beats Music tried to use to lure in users. And because Prime Music is bundled in with your Amazon Prime subscription, you’ll never have to listen to advertisements.

prime-music-kindleThis value-add comes on the heels of Amazon’s price hike for Prime subscriptions back in March. By not announcing Prime Music as part of the price hike, it makes users feel like they’re getting something for nothing with the new service – even though they’re now paying $1.60 more a month than they used to for having the privilege of music streaming. On the flipside, the service is available to Kindle owners, not to mention those with Android and iOS devices. And streaming via the web browser on your Mac or PC is also an option. In short, there’s a lot to like about this situation – but it’s not everything it might seem up front.

According to CNET, the service gives users the ability to stream music from 30 million tracks culled from the catalogues of Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Not included in Prime Music, however, are songs published by Universal. Moreover, only some songs published by Sony or Warner will be made available right as they’re released, while others may not show up on Prime Music until something like six months down the line, a detail that we’d first heard about only a couple weeks ago.

Even still, the timing of the Prime Music announcement is telling. Next Wednesday, Amazon is holding a press event in Seattle to announce a new gadget, which most people believe is going to be their long-rumored smartphone. Since owning one will likely come packaged with some form of Amazon Prime subscription – either a subsidized price for Prime members, or 30 days of Prime membership free with a phone purchase – Amazon will now have Prime Music in its back pocket at the reveal. Not only will this thing have some kind of futuristic head-tracking craziness, but it’ll also be an all-in-one music streaming machine to boot.

Between this and the reveal of Fire TV a couple months ago, 2014 might be Amazon’s year. No longer content to sell only other people’s products, Amazon wants to be in front of your eyes and all up in your ears. And depending on how good this smartphone turns out to be, that just may happen.

[Sources: Amazon, CNET]


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