Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Some benefits, but lacks hits

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LOS ANGELES -- If you're already a paying subscriber to Spotify, or a huge fan of Pandora, nothing in Amazon's new Prime Music offering, introduced Thursday, will make you want to switch.

That's not really the point. Because if you're already shelling out $99 a year for two-day free shipping, you just got another reason to keep your plan.

Because beyond the shipping, you now also get access to a limited collection of one million songs from two of the three major music labels (as opposed to 20 million on Spotify) and 40,000 movies and TV episodes.

You can now listen to artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Miranda Lambert, Bruno Mars and more on demand, selecting the album and cut you want to hear as you can do with a monthly subscription service such as Spotify, Slacker, Rdio or Beats Music.

What you won't find are a lot of hits. While current top 10 tunes by Paramore and Justin Timberlake are there, hits by Iggy and Ariana Grande are among the missing.

If you're already a subscriber, you'll find 30-second song samples pop up when you try to hear a song. What you're supposed to do is locate the tune, then save it to your Amazon library. Then take another step by navigating your way there to hear the complete music.

A nice feature: lots of programmed playlists. The problem with subscription music is sometimes we just don't know what we want to hear, so Amazon has many programmed playlists to keep you entertained. Examples include 50 Great Classic Rock Songs, Sweaty Summer Soul, and song collections by the likes of country crooner Lambert and pop's Pink.

But if you like Sting, Rihanna, Robin Thicke and Taylor Swift, you're out of luck at Prime Music. These artists record for Universal Music, the world's largest music label, which hasn't come to terms with Prime. Warner and Sony Music have.

I see Prime as a great reintroduction to Amazon Music. The collection is not tied to the computer. An Amazon Music app is available on Apple and Android platforms to listen to the selections and playlists on smartphones, and it works well.

What's in this for Amazon? Use its services more often and you're more likely to buy stuff.

 

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2014 B8

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