What is the difference between prime music and Amazon Music?

Introducing Amazon’s Music Services

Amazon first entered the music business in 1999 with their purchase of CDNow, an online music store. In 2007, Amazon launched Amazon MP3, their initial digital music download store. According to Wikipedia, Amazon MP3 launched in the UK on December 3, 2008, in Germany on April 1, 2009, and in France on June 10, 2009 [1].

In June 2014, Amazon launched Prime Music, a free streaming music service for Amazon Prime members. Prime Music gave members unlimited streaming access to over 1 million songs without ads [2].

Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon’s full on-demand premium streaming service, launched in October 2016. The service gave access to tens of millions of songs and thousands of expert-programmed playlists and stations [3].

Amazon Prime Music Overview

Amazon Prime Music is included as part of an Amazon Prime membership, which also includes other benefits like free shipping and access to Prime Video. With an Amazon Prime membership, you get access to 2 million songs ad-free [1]. The Prime Music catalog includes top artists and albums across various genres like pop, rock, hip-hop, country, and more. You can download songs for offline listening.

Prime Music can be used on Amazon Echo devices, Fire TV, iOS, Android, and on the web player. So you can listen at home on your Echo or on the go through the mobile app. It allows unlimited skips and you can download up to 100 songs for offline playback. Overall, Prime Music provides a sampler of tunes to Prime members as a benefit of membership.

Amazon Music Unlimited Overview

Amazon Music Unlimited is a separate subscription service from Amazon Prime and Amazon Music. According to Amazon’s FAQs, it offers access to over 100 million songs in high definition quality. This includes “millions of songs in Ultra HD”, which is Amazon’s term for their highest quality audio streaming.

Compared to the base Prime Music catalog, Music Unlimited offers at least ten times more songs and albums. The service goes far beyond just the 2 million track selection available for Prime members. You get full access to almost any artist or album you want to listen to.

Some key features of Amazon Music Unlimited include:

  • HD streaming quality for high fidelity sound
  • Options for Ultra HD and 3D Audio with compatible devices
  • Unlimited skips and the ability to download tracks for offline listening

Overall, Amazon Music Unlimited provides a premium, unrestricted music experience compared to Prime Music’s sample catalog approach. It is designed for serious music fans who want extensive choice without audio quality limitations.

Music Catalog Comparison

One of the main differences between Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited is the size of the music catalog. Prime Music has a catalog of around 2 million songs to choose from (source). This includes a selection of popular hits and classic tunes across various genres. However, compared to other music services, 2 million songs is considered a more limited selection.

Amazon Music Unlimited, on the other hand, has over 60 million songs in its catalog (source). This is comparable to the catalogs of leading services like Spotify and Apple Music. With Amazon Music Unlimited, you get access to a much wider selection of both mainstream and niche music. This includes more obscure independent artists, older catalog titles, and various foreign language options.

The larger catalog of Amazon Music Unlimited reduces the likelihood of not being able to find a specific song or album. For more casual listeners, Prime Music’s 2 million song selection may be sufficient. But music fans who want access to a full range of music will likely prefer the Unlimited plan for its deeper catalog.

Audio Quality

Amazon Prime Music streams at 256 kbps, which is the typical bitrate for most streaming services. This provides decent audio quality for most listeners. However, Amazon Music Unlimited offers even higher quality options (according to SoundGuys and Amazon):

  • HD – High Definition audio streams at 850 kbps to 2.4 Mbps. This results in near CD-quality audio using lossless FLAC encoding.
  • Ultra HD – Ultra High Definition audio streams at 3.7 Mbps to 5.7 Mbps. This offers the highest resolution lossless audio available with greater depth, clarity and detail.

So while Prime Music offers decent streaming quality, Music Unlimited provides audiophiles and discerning listeners with substantially higher fidelity options via HD and Ultra HD. The increased bitrates allow you to hear music with all the nuance and richness intended by the original artists and studios.

Offline Listening

One of the key differences between Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited is the ability to download songs for offline listening. With Amazon Prime Music, you can download up to 100 songs or playlists for offline listening [1]. This allows Prime members to listen to music offline, such as when traveling or without an internet connection. However, the catalog of songs available for download is limited compared to Amazon Music Unlimited.

With Amazon Music Unlimited, there is no limit on the number of songs you can download for offline listening [2]. Subscribers have access to download tens of millions of songs, playlists, and stations from the huge catalog of music. This makes Amazon Music Unlimited ideal for listeners who want extensive offline listening capabilities and options. The only limit is the storage capacity on your device.

Platform Availability

Both Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited can be accessed through Amazon’s apps on iOS, Android, Fire OS, and desktop browsers. However, there are some differences when it comes to device support:

Amazon Prime Music is available on all Amazon devices like Echo, Fire TV, and Fire tablets. It can also be used on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. However, Prime Music is not supported on other platforms like gaming consoles, in-car systems, or smart TVs (Supported Devices – Amazon Customer Service).

Amazon Music Unlimited has wider device support. In addition to Amazon devices, iOS and Android, it can also be used on Sonos, Bose, Windows 10 PCs, PS4, Xbox One, smart TVs, in-car systems, and more. Music Unlimited offers compatibility with over 1,000 different devices (Supported Devices – Amazon Customer Service).

So while both services work great on Amazon’s own hardware ecosystem, Music Unlimited has wider accessibility across more third-party platforms and systems compared to Prime Music.

Alexa Integration

Both Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited have integration with Alexa and Amazon’s Echo devices for voice control. However, there are some differences in the level of Alexa support between the two services:

With Amazon Prime Music, you can ask Alexa to play music by genre, playlist, or artist. Alexa can also play Prime Music stations based on your requests. However, Alexa’s ability to understand natural language requests may be more limited compared to Amazon Music Unlimited.

Amazon Music Unlimited offers more robust Alexa integration and advanced voice controls. You can request any song, album, playlist or podcast by name with Amazon Music Unlimited. Alexa is able to understand more complex queries and find exactly what you ask for. There are also additional Alexa-only features only available with Music Unlimited, like the ability to search by lyrics.

In summary, while both services offer Alexa voice control, Amazon Music Unlimited has more advanced integration for finding music via natural voice requests. Prime Music’s Alexa support is more basic by comparison. This allows Music Unlimited subscribers to fully maximize Alexa’s music searching and playback capabilities.

Additional Features

Both Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited offer curated playlists and stations that are personalized based on your listening habits and likes. Amazon Music Unlimited provides access to playlists created by music experts1 across various genres like pop, rock, country and more. Some top playlists on Amazon Music Unlimited include Mellow ’70s Gold, Country Heat, and Piano Hymns2.

Amazon Prime Music also offers curated playlists but the catalog is more limited compared to Amazon Music Unlimited. However, Prime members can still enjoy playlists tailored to their tastes. Both services allow you to download playlists for offline listening. Overall, Amazon Music Unlimited provides more robust playlist and station features given its larger catalog size.

Cost Comparison

There is a key difference in the pricing models for Amazon Prime Music versus Amazon Music Unlimited. Prime Music comes included with an Amazon Prime membership, which costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year (Amazon Music FAQs). So there is no additional charge for Prime members to access the Prime Music catalog.

Amazon Music Unlimited requires a separate subscription with monthly and yearly pricing options. For Prime members, it costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year (Amazon Music Unlimited). For non-Prime customers, the monthly cost is $10.99. There are also discounted student and family plans available.

Overall, Prime Music provides a free music option for Prime members, but with a more limited catalog of 2 million songs. Music Unlimited offers a vast catalog of over 100 million songs for a subscription fee. So Unlimited provides much greater depth and variety, but does come at an added cost over a Prime membership alone.

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