Here’s the latest indication that music has become a commodity. Starting today Amazon will offer unlimited, ad-free access to streamed tunes to U.S. customers who pay $99 a year for its Prime membership — which also includes no-extra-cost delivery of merchandise and access to its Prime Instant Video service. Users can create playlists or access ones that Amazon crafts. It can also make personalized recommendations. Customers can download songs to mobile devices. The service works on any Web browser as well as iOS and Android, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD/HDX.
Prime Music begins with more than 1M songs, the company says. That means it’s no match yet for established rivals led by Spotify or Beats — just bought by Apple — which have about 20M. Amazon’s release this morning doesn’t go into deal terms with music labels, but it’s been widely reported that the company won’t offer songs from Universal Music — the industry leader — or new releases from other major labels including Warner and Sony.