Music streaming

A decent music streaming experience

Alternatives to Spotify have been something a lot of people have been discussing lately. The downside to leaving Spotify is the years of listening data the app has on you, which translates into outstanding weekly playlists and recommendations. There’s also this Spotify Wrapped thing that I have for some reason really enjoy.

But as I work on the various music streaming services, starting with Amazon Music, I realize there’s not much I’m missing by not using Spotify.

Amazon Music (even the free version) is actually pretty good – who’d have thought that the company with a ton of data on people around the world could create a listening experience, huh?

Amazon Free Music

You need an Amazon account. If you don’t have one, signing up is pretty straightforward. You don’t have to pay anything, but this is the account you’ll use to shop on and sign in to Amazon Prime Video. However, you do not need an Amazon Prime account.

When logging in, you had to select your music preferences. When selecting the first group I saw that I liked, it repopulated the list a bit better. In three quick picks, he basically knew my musical tastes. I have never felt so seen. It then fills your music into a nice little playlist.

I started using the free version, downloaded only to review the Amazon Echo Buds. The approach here was that Apple has Apple Music to listen to through the Apple AirPods, the Google Pixel has the Pixel Buds to add to its experience, so let’s give the Amazon Echo Buds something it knows to get my review wrong to at least mediocre. And he did.

Taking a screenshot of the song playing lets you tap to share the song with a friend, which is a nice feature, I do this all the time on other streaming services. Clicking the link redirects the recipient to the Amazon Music website to download the Amazon Music app, no preview of the song, unfortunately.

Leaving the curated playlist takes me to the app’s home page, with a prompt to ask me if I want to stay on top of when artists I like drop new music. Thanks Amazon, I actually want to stay in the loop.

Amazon Music

The experience after that is quite comparable to Spotify. There are stations based on the music I said I like, as well as popular ones, such as ’80s Summer’, ‘Classic Australian Rock’ and ‘Oldies Hits’. You can also search for music via stations, playlists, charts, new releases. From an artist’s page, you can select “Play similar music”. You can download songs/playlists to play without chewing up your data (or to listen on a plane, when that becomes a thing again).

Amazon Music Unlimited

Using the free version, the only downside is the ads every third song and the inability to play a specific song from an album (your game is also limited, as are your jumps). Since it’s important to me, I signed up for the three-month trial of Amazon Music Unlimited (it’s usually 30 days, but Amazon is currently running a promotion that extends an additional 60 days).

After a three-month free trial, Amazon Music Unlimited will cost you $11.99 per month. Spotify is $0.04 cheaper at $11.05 per month, Apple Music is $17.99 per month, YouTube Music is also $17.99 per month, and Deezer will cost you $12.99 per month. So the monthly cost of Amazon Music Unlimited is okay.

With the free version you get: top playlists, curated playlists on demand and thousands of stations. None of this is HD or Ultra HD, and you miss out on spatial audio. With Amazon Music Unlimited, you get 90 million songs in HD, plus a few million in Ultra HD.

There’s no cap on how much music you listen to, nor do you have to watch commercials. Porting to my Spotify playlists was also seamless with SongShift (we have instructions on that here).

The more I listen, probably the more Amazon Music will learn my tastes, but a week later, it works pretty well. The only downside is the inability to connect Amazon Music to Google Home speakers.

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