In the wake of this morning’s announcement of Apple’s next-gen music service offering lossless and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos support, Amazon is likely making a decision to keep its own music subscribers. in streaming. The company says that in the future, its high-quality streaming tier, Amazon Music HD, will be made available to all eligible Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no additional cost.
Amazon first announced Amazon Music HD in fall 2019 with access to over 50 million songs that would stream in what Amazon calls HD, with 16-bit bit depth and sample rate. 44.1 kHz (approximately CD quality). He also promised “millions” of additional songs that would stream in Ultra HD, or 24-bit, with a sample rate of up to 192kHz (or better than CD quality).
Today, Amazon Music’s HD catalog has over 70 million songs and over 7 million Ultra HD tracks are available. Amazon Music HD customers can also access a growing catalog of songs remixed in 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and Sony 360RA, which can be played on Amazon’s own high-fidelity speaker, the Echo Studio. .
Music in 360RA can also be streamed via Amazon Music HD to Sony’s RA5000 and RA3000 speakers using Alexa Cast, the company notes.
The launch of HD streaming was seen as a way to counter the threat of music streaming service Tidal, which catered to audiophiles with higher quality streams, as well as a way to differentiate its service from bigger streaming rivals. , like Apple and Spotify. – the latter who recently announced a high-end subscription of its own, Spotify HiFi, whose price and launch date are still unknown.
Prior to today, Amazon Music HD was priced at $ 12.99 per month for Amazon Prime subscribers and $ 14.99 per month for others. Now Amazon says new and existing subscribers to the Amazon Music Unlimited individual plan ($ 7.99 / month for Prime members and $ 9.99 / month otherwise) or the family plan ($ 14.99 / month) can upgrade. to Amazon Music HD at no additional cost – basically a savings of $ 5 per month.
The changes will take effect in the next billing cycle and are supported in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, France, Italy and Spain.
“When we first launched Amazon Music HD, our goal was to lead the industry by enabling music fans around the world to stream the best recording quality, the way artists wanted their music to be. music be heard, “Steve Boom, vice president of Amazon Music, said in a statement on Today’s News. “We are delighted to make Amazon Music HD available to everyone at no additional cost. All music fans should have access to this quality of music, and now they do, ”he added.
Amazon’s decision to make its HD catalog a free upgrade follows Apple’s announcement this morning that it will add lossless audio to Apple Music at no additional cost, starting next month. Apple boasts over 75 million songs in lossless audio. The upgrade will also bring spatial sound with Dolby Atmos support. With the changing market, there is pressure on Spotify to have its HiFi music service competitively priced as well.
Amazon Music Unlimited has been considered the dark horse of music streaming, given its potential to grow to a larger size simply because of its connection to Amazon’s popular Prime subscription. The service had 55 million subscribers since early 2020, but Amazon declined to provide an updated figure today. For comparison, Apple Music announced 60 million subscribers in 2019 and is said to have reached 72 million at the start of 2020 and probably over 80 million by now. Spotify, meanwhile, has 158 million paying subscribers.