Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Amazon Music’s Tens Of Millions Of Subscribers . . . Sort Of

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According to Amazon Music VP Steve Boom the online retailer is growing a healthy music streaming side business with “tens of millions” of paying subscribers.  In an interview with Billboard Mr. Boom elaborated by saying Amazon’s music subscribers have doubled in the last six months thanks to a surge in music listening on their Echo smartspeakers.

I tend to believe the 8-figure listener total being touted, but the stat needs a huge asterisk next to it.  Since 2014 Amazon has bundled its Music subscriptions in with its Prime memberships, so their Music tally includes all of those Prime subs.  I know I’m just a focus group of one, but I can attest that I have a Prime membership but have never listened to Amazon’s streamed music – so does that make me a true Amazon Music subscriber?  There’s also a higher tier Amazon Music Unlimited subscription option which would be a legitimate upsell for listeners intending to stream their music through Amazon.  But Steve Boom didn’t offer any specifics on how many of their subs are buying the Unlimited tier.

Over time I would expect Amazon to become a force in the audio streaming sector because they control the default settings on their devices.  Right now if a listener says “Alexa, play Elton John” to their Echo it will automatically start playing an Amazon EJ playlist.  But if you want to listen to your Elton John station on another streamer like Pandora, you must first go in to the Amazon Alexa app and link your Pandora account, and then say “Alex, play Elton John Radio”.  By creating this extra little hurdle Amazon wins by default and is able to amass unintentional listening on their platform.  I’m guessing their number of unintenders is “tens of millions” strong by now and will keep growing.

 

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