Amazon Music – A review

I have in the past blogged extensively around the streaming music services, and my waffling back and forth until I chose my current preferences – Apple Music for the on demand streaming, and Pandora for ‘radio’. Both have a place in my dock, and I don’t mind paying for them.

Along the way, I compared Google Play, Amazon, Spotify (a former winner) as well as the two I settled on.

Amazon’s music offering was not chosen because it had a less than satisfactory web app, and the iOS app was weak. A benefit was access to much free music just due to my Prime subscription, but again, that list and roster kept changing (and it still does). This was before their plan to give access to their whole library “Unlimited Music” (for $7.99 a month – prime subscriber price, or $14.99 for all members of a family). A latecomer, they are entering a crowded market, but have made a solid entry. (Launched on October 12, 2016)

Of course, I had moved on, and ignored it.

Amazon Music App screen

Fast forward to yesterday. I was on the couch, reading my Kindle, and I wanted a little lively music. I had saved the Disturbed album, “The Sickness” and I wanted to listen to it, so I fired up my iPhone, and tapped on the Amazon Music App. Having left it, unopened in my “Music” folder for probably 16 months, updated regularly, but unused, it was awaiting my summons.

I was blown away. The app is completely redone, the navigation is crisp, and intuitive, the graphical elements are pleasing and functional, and in general, it rocks.

I spent an hour or so playing with it, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t destroy the Apple Music app. Amazon has built a superior experience, finally.

There are plenty of pro’s for the Amazon music ecosystem:

  1. Autorip – that many of the CD’s and LP’s I have bought from Amazon over the years are already pre-populated in my collection. A nice feature. Even some CD’s I bought as early as 1999 are in the list. Nice.
  2. Amazon Prime selections – a pretty large, long tail, selection of artists and albums that I get access to for free, as a Prime member. (this is also a negative)
  3. Native apps – Clients that work on all my devices. Windows PC – Check. Mac – Check, iPad/iPhone – Check. Full featured, fresh, and very usable.
  4. Optional storage of music – as I have a lot of music that often falls outside of the mainstream, or is intentionally not available by streaming (cough Paul Gilbert cough), I leverage the Apple Music Match pretty heavily. Amazon offers that for the same price $24.99 a year.
  5. The streaming is solid – Apple at first struggled with the quality of their streaming. Hiccups, glitches, and the like. Amazon has been rock solid (and even at the start was great). Google Play streaming fails at this (and I re-try it every quarter or two) even on an android device, with rock solid WiFi, and their native app.

Of course, there are some negatives. Mainly the Prime music selections change often (just like their prime video).

It might be time to activate my 30 day trial of Unlimited Music, and give it a full test. Apple’s subscription might be in jeopardy.

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