Amazon officially began offering free ad-supported music for owners of Echo speakers Thursday, even if they don't subscribe to Prime, Amazon's expedited shipping and entertainment offering. Amazon already provides some 2 million songs free, but without ads to Echo owners who also pay $119 yearly to subscribe to Prime.A more full-featured ad-free music offering, Amazon Music Unlimited, is available for $9.99 monthly, or $7.99 monthly for Prime members. Amazon says it has access to around 50 million songs. The new free service has limitations, more akin to online radio station Pandora than Apple Music in that customers can't request a specific on-demand song. Instead, the request will lead to a music station "based" on that song, or a pre-existing Amazon playlist.
Matching Amazon's new free music offer on Echo speakers, Google now offers owners of the Google Home speaker access to free tunes, via YouTube Music. There's a big difference: songs are sponsored on Amazon Echo speakers, while tunes for Google users are free. Additionally, they can be listened on both the Google Home speaker line, and any speaker that has the Google Assistant, Google's Siri/Alexa like helper. That includes the brands Sony, JBL, Harman and others. What you can't get is on-demand song selection, but instead playlists or radio stations created based on your requests.
With Pandora's new Premium service you can listen to whatever you want for $9.99 a month. Pandora is bringing on-demand song choice to its streaming radio service -- for a premium. The new on-demand service Pandora Premium, which costs $9.99 monthly, lets subscribers choose and play any song or album and use new playlist creation features. Currently, Pandora's Internet radio can be listened to free with advertisements, but you cannot choose a specific song, only artists or a type of music. Listeners can give songs a thumbs up to hear more songs similar to that or thumbs down to not hear that track again on that station.
So many streaming services and so little time to find the one that suits you best. What's a music lover to do? Talking Tech has you covered. Which of the monthly streaming music services makes the best recommendations, is easiest to use and has the best prices? After the newest kid on the block, YouTube Music Premium, debuted in a soft launch this week, we set to find out, comparing YouTube to the Big 3: No. 1 Spotify (75 million subscribers,) Apple Music (50 million) and Amazon, which won't be more specific other than to say it has "tens of millions" of users. For several days, we have been searching for our favorites, looking for clues to discover stuff we didn't know about, creating playlists, looking for song recommendations and playing the music on the computer, phone and through Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and Sonos speakers.
We've loved Pandora for years. Perhaps we forgot about her and moved onto new friends, like Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon. But can she now bounce back with a $3.5 billion investment? That's the question many asked Monday, in the wake of Sirius XM's proposed purchase of the struggling Pandora music service, one of the oldest Internet brands, dating back to the early oughts. A comeback seems doubtful – just ask AOL and Yahoo how that's going?