Online retailer Amazon unveiled its new music-streaming service Amazon Music Unlimited in the UK yesterday, with a subscription priced at £9.99/month. But there are a range of ways to get it for less – including a trick which means most can sign up for a year and pay the equivalent of just £6.58/month.
In terms of features and track library it's about on par with other services out there, though it promises to be a perfect fit with the Echo (Amazon's voice-activated home speaker).
Here we explain how you can cut the cost of a subscription – for more free and cheap music-streaming options, see our Free Music Online guide.
What is Amazon Music Unlimited?
Amazon Music Unlimited offers, well, unlimited music streaming. Much like rivals Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Google Play Music, it'll let you search for and listen to tracks online and offline on most smartphones, tablets and computers, as well as create playlists.
It sports a library of 40 million songs – slightly more than the 30-odd million most of its rivals host, but it doesn't boast any world stars' exclusive record releases (unless you're a fan of country singer Garth Brooks).
This isn't Amazon's first venture into the world of music streaming. Prime customers already get Amazon Prime Music – which has a much more restricted library of only two million songs – at no extra charge. Amazon says this isn't going anywhere, and it has in fact just upgraded the library catalogue.
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What does it cost – and what discounts can I get?
The standard monthly price for Amazon Music Unlimited is £9.99/month, though anyone can get a free 30-day trial. (Unsurprisingly, you'll be charged automatically at the end unless you turn off auto-renewal, which you can do via Your Music Subscriptions in your account.)
If you do choose to sign up, there are a few different discounts available.
1. How most people can get it for £79/year – equivalent to £6.58/month
Amazon Prime customers are eligible for a discount on the music service – and handily, so is anyone who's on the free 30-day trial of Prime or student six-month trial (or half-price student subscription).
Only those who have previously had a free Prime trial and no longer subscribe cannot get some sort of reduction (though they could sign up to just one month of Prime for £7.99 if going for the annual subscription, see below).
Those on Amazon Prime can choose between two forms of discount:
An upfront £79/year subscription (£6.58/month equiv). You get this for the full 12 months even if you leave Prime, meaning it's possible to game it – Amazon's confirmed that if you sign up while you're on a Prime trial and then cancel Prime, you'll still get to keep Amazon Music Unlimited for the rest of the 12 months without paying anything more.
£2 a month off, so £7.99/month. You get this while you're still on Amazon Prime. So if you opt for this discounted monthly subscription during your Prime trial and then cancel Prime, Amazon says your monthly price will go up to the standard £9.99/month.
To get either discounted plan, sign in to your Amazon account and if you're a Prime customer, you'll be offered the choice between the two. In either case, your subscription starts with the free 30-day trial.
2. Got an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot? Subscribe for just £3.99/month
Owners of the Echo, Amazon's voice-activated bluetooth speaker, and its little brother the Echo Dot, are eligible for discounted Amazon Music Unlimited at £3.99/month (regardless of whether you have Prime).
However, this discounted plan only lets you use the service via a single Echo or Echo Dot – not on any other devices such as your smartphone or desktop – making it rather limited.
To get this, ask your Echo "Alexa, try Amazon Music Unlimited", and you'll be signed up to a 30-day free trial, after which you'll be moved over to the paid subscription.
3. Coming soon – family plan for six users at £14.99/monthAmazon says a family plan is "coming this year" (it wouldn't tell us when exactly) – this will cost £14.99/month and allow up to six users to access the service. This is the same price as the family plans offered by Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music and Deezer.
Unlike with Spotify Premium and Apple Music, there's no student discount available for Amazon Music Unlimited, though as above, those on the free Amazon Prime student trial or those with a student Prime subscription are eligible for the discounts above.
Confused? Here's a quick summary of how all of Amazon's music-streaming options compare...
Amazon music-streaming plans
|Prime Music||Amazon Music Unlimited||Amazon Music Unlimited Echo||Amazon Music Unlimited Family (1)|
|Track library||2 million||40 million||40 million||40 million|
|Supported devices||All||All||Amazon Echo/Dot only||All|
|Price||Standard||N/A||£9.99/mth (no annual option)||£3.99/mth||£14.99/mth or £149/yr|
|Prime customers||Included||£7.99/mth or £79/yr||£3.99/mth||£14.99/mth or £149/yr|
|(1) Launch date TBC.|
To cancel your Amazon Music Unlimited subscription you'll need to give 30 days' notice.
What free music-streaming alternatives are there?
Sadly there's no free version of Amazon Music Unlimited, other than the 30-day free trial mentioned above (again, you'll be charged if you don't cancel auto-renewal within the trial period).
If you want continuous free music streaming, Spotify has a free, more limited version without offline listening that's supported by ads, as does rival service Deezer – see Free Online Music Services for full details.
It's also worth noting new and existing Three customers can get three months of the premium version of Deezer free (and non-Three customers can also get this using this trick). New and upgrading EE customers (who started a new contract in the last 30 days) can get six months' free Apple Music. (Both normally cost £9.99/month.)