Amazon's Rumored $5 Music Streaming Service Has a Big Catch

Prime Music might not be a huge hit, but Amazon reportedly has a new plan for taking on the likes of Apple Music and Spotify. According to Recode, the retail giant is planning a standalone music service that would offer many of the features of its competitors for just $5 a month, but with one major catch -- you'll need an Amazon Echo to use it.

This low-cost option could launch alongside a more conventional $10-per-month music streaming service as soon as September, Recode reports. What's significant about Amazon's rumored $5-per-month plan is that it could potentially offer the same unlimited, ad-free music playback that services like Apple Music and Spotify charge $10 per month for. Most $5 monthly music services are limited to basic web radio, such as Pandora One.

MORE: What Is Amazon Prime?

The big tradeoff, of course, is that you'd be tied down to using that service on Amazon's smart speaker. The Amazon Echo is a great product for music and smart home junkies alike, but one of the biggest selling points of most music streaming services is that you can take your music wherever you go on your mobile device. On the other hand, if you do most of your rocking out while you're getting ready for work or preparing dinner at home, an Echo-bound service could end up being a good deal.

The other downside of Prime Music as it stands today is that Amazon's library of streaming songs is much smaller than those of its competitors. Amazon boasts its service offers "over 1 million songs," and while that may sound like enough tracks, Spotify and Apple both provide 30 million. Amazon ought to invest in a deeper collection in order to compete, or risk angry fans asking Alexa "Why don't you have songs by my favorite artist?"

This wouldn't be the first Amazon service that you'd need an Alexa-enabled device, such as the Echo, to take advantage of. The company's Echo Dot, essentially a mini-Echo that works with your speaker of choice, can only be bought through Alexa. During this year's Prime Day, certain deals were exclusive to those who had access to Amazon's virtual assistant.

Amazon Prime members can already access unlimited music streaming via Prime Music, but the service's song selection is still catching up to what you'd find on Apple Music or Spotify. Amazon has already experimented with standalone streaming services by offering Prime Video for $9 per month; perhaps a full-on foray into music streaming is a logical next step.

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