Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Amazon Prepping A Tidal-like Premium Streaming Tier

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Two weeks ago Amazon launched a free ad-supported music streaming product to compliment its Amazon Music subscription platform.  Now rumors are circulating that they plan to start a high-end subscription tier, complete with “better than CD” fidelity and a $15-20/mo price tag.  This streaming product would compete directly with Tidal, who offers wanna be audiophiles CD-quality streaming at 44.1 kHz/16 bits for $20/mo.

On the surface it looks like Amazon is trying to bookend and eventually control the streaming audio market.  However, there are two problems with their plan.  First, the market they’re going after with their new premium tier.  Four years after launching, Tidal only has 3M worldwide subscribers.  Tidal’s fundamental challenge is that very few people are willing to pay extra for higher end sound quality which is imperceptible to the majority of ears.  Odds are Amazon will have the same problem.

Amazon’s other streaming issue is a focus on distribution through their own devices.  As an example, the free ad-supported tier is only available when listening on an Echo device.  Granted there are a bazillion Echos out there, but the vast majority of audio streaming still happens on devices like smartphones, cars, computers, etc..  Right now it’s not clear which devices Amazon’s new premium tier will be available on.  Wondering if it will be on more than just their own hardware.

 

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