| SAN FRANCISCO, June 12
SAN FRANCISCO, June 12 Amazon.com Inc
launched a streaming music service on Thursday that comes free
with its $99-a-year Prime membership program, but offers a
smaller selection of recent hits than rivals Spotify and Apple
Inc's Beats Music.
The new feature, dubbed "Prime Music," allows subscribers of
the $99-a-year program to stream or download more than a million
songs without added fees or interruptions from advertisements.
This is one of many steps Amazon has taken in recent months
to broaden the appeal of Prime, which includes perks such as
free two-day shipping, after increasing its price to $99 from
But the selection on Amazon's streaming service is less
robust than Spotify and Beats, which both offer more than 20
million songs. Amazon will also have fewer new songs and will
not include songs from Universal Music Group Inc's catalog,
which includes work from artists Kanye West and Lady Gaga.
Amazon's head of digital music, Steve Boom, acknowledged
those shortcomings, but added that because the service is free
with Prime, it offers more bang per buck than standalone
streaming services that can cost $10 a month.
"If there are a few tracks you want to buy, the cost of
doing that in our store will be dramatically less than paying
$120 a year for, frankly, a lot of music people don't listen
to," Boom said in an interview.
Amazon's own data shows that a "substantial" portion of the
25 million to 30 million songs sold on its website are never
purchased, he said. He declined to elaborate.
Universal, the world's largest record company, and Amazon
are still in negotiations about the service, he said, declining
to elaborate on the negotiations or its sticking points.
Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and other
smaller labels have signed on to the Amazon service. In some of
its deals with labels, Amazon will have to wait up to six months
after songs are released to add them to its service. In other
cases, Amazon will be able to add new songs immediately.
The new service is a reflection of Amazon's aggressive push
into new areas such as digital content and hardware. Next week,
Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is expected to unveil
Amazon's first smartphone during an event in Seattle.