Amazon offers free music streaming with Prime, a paid music service for an additional monthly fee, direct MP3 sales, a way to get MP3s with the purchase of audio CDs, and a music locker where you can upload your own songs. That’s a lot to keep track of! Here are all the confusing Amazon music services explained.
Prime Music: Free streaming from Amazon Prime
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If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you have access to Prime Music at no additional cost. Prime Music offers over two million songs that you can stream ad-free. It’s a bit like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music All Access and similar services. It’s just cheaper and has a much smaller catalog.
You can play this music from Amazon Music in your web browser, in the Amazon Music app for iPhone, Android, Fire devices or desktop, or by asking Alexa to play it on Amazon Echo. You can search for free collections of songs and listen to radio stations from here.
(Your Amazon Prime subscription also gives you free access to the «original audio recording» through Audible Channels. The rest of Audible is a separate audiobook store owned by Amazon.)
Amazon Music Unlimited: Large streaming library for a monthly fee
Amazon Music Unlimited is real an Amazon competitor for services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music All Access. You get a much larger catalog of unlimited streaming music than what’s included with Prime Music. Amazon claims the catalog has tens of millions of songs and should be similar to other music streaming services.
To get this extra music, you have to pay an extra fee. Several plans are available:
Echo plan A: Access to Amazon Music Unlimited via Alexa on one Amazon Echo, Dot, or Tap will cost $3.99 per month.
Individual plan A: A Prime member can pay $7.99/month or $79/year to access Amazon Music Unlimited. This provides access to all your devices, including web browsers and smartphones. You will have to pay $9.99 per month if you are not a main member.
Family plan A: Amazon also sells a family plan for $14.99/month or $149/year. Up to six family members will have access to Amazon Music Unlimited on all their devices.
There is also a free 30 day trial so you can try it out without paying anything.
To subscribe or see more information, visit Amazon’s Music Unlimited website. You will then be able to access much more music on the Amazon Music website and app.
Amazon Digital Music Store: Buy MP3s for your local collection
You don’t have to use Amazon’s unlimited music streaming services. You can buy your music the old fashioned way, or at least the old fashioned online way by buying individual MP3s or MP3 albums from the Amazon store. Some music is only available for purchase and is not offered as part of their streaming services. This choice remains with the music artist or his label.
Search the Amazon digital music store and find the MP3s you want to buy. It’s often cheaper to buy the whole album at once than the MP3s of all the songs in it, but you can also choose to buy individual songs from the album.
These MP3s will also appear in your Amazon streaming library if you are a subscriber. If you ever want to re-download them, just go to the Purchased Music section of your Amazon Music library.
Auto-Rip: Buy Physical CDs and Get MP3s, Too
If you only buy digital music, you may not have seen the «Auto-Rip» feature on Amazon. But if you buy physical CDs from Amazon, they often give you a free digital copy of the MP3.
If a physical audio CD advertises an «Auto-Rip» feature on the store page, you will receive both the physical disc and digital MP3 copies from Amazon.
For example, Amazon is currently selling the 1989 MP3 version of Taylor Swift for $11.49. A physical copy costs $12.29 but includes Amazon Auto-Rip. This means that for an extra 80 cents, you can get an MP3 right away and ask Amazon to send you a physical CD for your collection.
MP3s will be stored in the Purchased Music section of your Amazon Music online library. You can access them from anywhere and re-download them in the future.
Not every album offers the Auto-Rip feature, so be sure to check the album’s storage page before purchasing it. Auto-Rip is also included on vinyl copies of some albums.
Amazon Cloud Music Library: Download and transfer up to 250 songs
Update A: Unfortunately, Amazon is closing this service on January 15, 2018. But if you upload your music now, it will be available for streaming until January 2019, so do it now!
You don’t have to buy new music to add it to your Amazon Music library. Amazon allows you to upload up to 250 songs to your Cloud Music library, so you can stream them anywhere. However, the songs you buy from Amazon don’t take this limit into account, which is nice — and makes sense since Amazon prefers to buy music.
To use this feature, visit the Amazon Music website, click the «Upload music to your cloud library» link on the sidebar, and download the Amazon Music app for your PC or Mac. Install the app and sign in with your Amazon account. Click on the «My Music» category in the header and select «Uploaded» in the sidebar. You can drag the music to the window from here, or click the «Download» action on the right side of the window and select the music you want to download.
Any songs you download will appear in your Amazon Music Library along with your purchased songs.