Amazon Music's full library is now free to Prime members — but there's a catch

The Amazon Music icon appears on an iPhone home screen
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Amazon Music just got a whole lot better — and unlike last month's Apple Music price hike, you're not going to paying a penny more at Amazon.

In an email to the press, Amazon announced that "Amazon Music has expanded its offering for Prime members, bringing them a full catalog of 100 million songs and the most top podcasts available ad-free, at no additional cost to their membership." 

And that's great. It's huge, in fact. Amazon Prime members can now access 50x as much music, since accounts were formerly limited to 2 million tracks. Previously, you had to pay for Amazon Music Unlimited (which we would not be surprised to see Amazon discount on Black Friday) to get that full library.

An Amazon Prime membership costs $14.99/month or $139 a year. Amazon Music Unlimited costs $8.99/month on top of that.

There is one caveat to Amazon's music news, and the fine print comes right after Amazon's initial announcement: "Prime members can shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist, plus stream a selection of All-Access playlists on demand." So while you can now stream every song in the Amazon Music library, you won't be able to stream exactly the song you want when you want to hear it. Select "All-Access" playlists will offer on-demand streaming that isn't stuck on shuffle-mode.

In other words, Amazon Music Shuffle Mode  basically now presents Prime members with the entire music catalogue — with whole artist discographies, albums and playlists —  but only puts a shuffle button, not a play button, at your disposal.

That's not the only news of the day: Amazon Music is now taking ads out of "most top Podcasts." This is, it says, "the largest selection of ad-free top podcasts available," and the announcement includes podcasts from CNN, ESPN, The New York Times and the whole Wondery catalogue (with shows like My Favorite Murder, Smartless and How I Built This). There's also another new feature: Podcast Previews, which lets you get "a short, digestible soundbite from a podcast episode," so you can check out a show before you commit to a whole episode.

Analysis: Amazon Music is still looking to get you to pay more

This expanded music library feels like Amazon's latest gambit to get people to cough up $9 per month for Amazon Music Unlimited. Now that you'll be aware of Amazon's full library, you may want to have instant access to any song you want.

Otherwise, you're waiting for the song you want to play, and that's just a slightly better version of listening to the radio. 

But the big news is that Amazon Music no longer cuts out 98 million songs. Essentially, aside from different playlists, Amazon Music is very similar to the Spotify Free tier, provided you have Prime.

Amazon Music Unlimited also gives you higher fidelity and spatial audio streaming options. 

Next: Here's why some Amazon Music users are saying the service is a shambles

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.