If you're a Prime member, today is your lucky day. Amazon has announced significant changes to its free music offering for Prime members. While Prime subscribers have previously had access to a limited, ad-supported library, Amazon's entire 100 million-strong music catalogue and most popular podcasts are now available to Prime members (opens in new tab) ad-free.
Prime members can access all of Amazon's music, the most popular podcasts, and All-Access playlists – all ad-free on all Amazon Music-supported devices, without paying any extra on top of their membership. But (and here's the caveat), you will only be able to shuffle-play artists, albums or playlists. You can, however, pick and choose songs from the All-Access playlists.
Members can also download tracks from the All-Access playlists for offline listening, and there aren't any skip limits on the All-Access playlists either. In short, you can have at it with those playlists, but elsewhere you will be shuffle-playing music by artist, album or playlist.
What exactly is on the All-Access playlists? According to Amazon, there will be a collection of these playlists available, tailored to personalized listening preferences, which is nice considering the playback freedom given to Prime members with these.
There is another important caveat to this big change in how Amazon Music works, though: Prime members are limited to 'SD-quality' music. If 'SD' doesn't sound like a technical audio term to you, that's because it isn't; Amazon has been shy about revealing the exact bitrate it streams in.
You can perhaps expect this SD quality on Amazon to be roughly equivalent to a Spotify stream. If you want CD-quality (i.e lossless), hi-res or even spatial music, you'll have to pay for Amazon Music Unlimited. After all, Amazon has to keep its paid-for streaming service relevant.
Amazon Music Unlimited will run you $9.99/£9.99 a month (or $8.99/£8.99 for Prime members), though it includes a free 30-day trial (opens in new tab). As well as superior audio quality, paying for Unlimited offers unrestricted playback access to Amazon's entire catalogue.
All told, while the new free Prime Music service doesn't get you the complete Amazon Music experience, Prime members are now getting close to all of it for free and without ads. This comes as something of a welcome surprise in a world where streaming services are continuously gating features behind more expensive tiers and generally raising prices.
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