Now Amazon has a music subscription service, too.
Like everyone else, Amazon has started selling a $10 monthly service that lets you listen to whatever you want, whenever you want, on any device you want, without ads.
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But Amazon is also offering two versions of the service that its rivals don't: An $8-a-month version of the service for its Amazon Prime subscribers, and a $4-a-month version of the service that will only work on Amazon's line of Echo speakers. (That's the one we told you about in August. You're welcome!)
Amazon's entry into the subscription music business would be noteworthy on its own, since Amazon is a giant tech company with big money and ambitions. But the fact that it has broken the $10-a-month barrier for on-demand, ad-free music is the real news here.
Digital music services, most recently Apple, have tried pushing the retail price for on-demand music below $10 a month for years, without success.
Amazon has done it with a combination of brute force and creative thinking. It got the labels to agree to the $4 service that only works on Amazon devices, by telling the labels that it would act as a gateway to more expensive services.
And it appears to have launched the $8 service simply by paying up: As far as the music labels are concerned, Amazon owes them as much for each subscriber on the $8 service as it does for $10 subscribers. That is: Amazon is subsidizing the difference.