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I don't pay to stream music but here's why I'm considering Amazon’s new service

We’re experiencing serious decision fatigue when it comes to technology — be it which social media platform to use (should I Snapchat this? Instagram story it? Is this vacation worthy of a Facebook photo album?) or which ride-hailing app makes the most sense (Is Lyft really cheaper than Uber? Should I sacrifice convenience and use Via instead?). And perhaps the space where we’re dealing with an overwhelming number of choices is which streaming service to subscribe to.

On Wednesday, Amazon (AMZN) announced an on-demand music service called Amazon Music Unlimited. It’s available for $9.99/month for non-Prime customers and $7.99/month for Prime members. Eventually Amazon will roll out a family plan that’s priced the same as Spotify’s family plan — $14.99 per month for up to five people.

But the best deal goes to Echo device-owners. The unlimited streaming service costs $3.99/month to use on an Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap.

But, to me, the main differentiator is that the Echo can Shazam my voice. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained in a statement, “If you don’t know the name of a song but know a few lyrics, if you want to hear songs from a specific decade, or even if you’re looking for music to match your mood, just ask.”

How many times do you remember one line from a song and have to search for the lyrics? Now you can just sing it to your Echo. As an Echo owner, I listen to the news, check the weather and listen to Spotify (not premium) on my device, both morning and night.

Outside of my apartment, I primarily search for songs on YouTube (GOOG, GOOGL), enjoy my downloaded music on iTunes or am often subjected to my coworkers’ singing.

That’s why I’m pretty much sold on paying $48 for an entire year of unlimited music on my Echo. It’s a great option for those who like to jam out at home, entertain, and aren’t committed to dishing out $10 per month.

And, if I decide I want to enjoy the service on other devices like my phone or laptop, as a Prime member, I only need to pay an additional $4 per month. For me, it’s a no-brainer because no matter what, I’ll be paying $2 less per month than I would for Spotify or Apple Music.

Full disclosure: I used to be a Spotify Premium member but unsubscribed because I wasn’t convinced I was taking advantage of the service and felt that I could handle the ads.

Yes, there will be albums that Amazon Unlimited Music won’t have, but the same has applied to Spotify. Either Apple Music (AAPL) or Tidal have been the exclusive launch platforms for Frank Ocean, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Kanye West. Overall, however, average music listeners are simply looking for a platform that gives them the best bang for their buck.


Now, you may ask, what about good old Pandora (P)? In a perfectly timed move on Wednesday, Pandora launched its revamped premium service, “Pandora Plus” — a $5 a month service which will allow users to skip more songs, replay songs and listen offline.

Prior to this service, there was “Pandora One,” which only eliminated ads for the same price. Current Pandora One subscribers will automatically be converted to Plus members. Still, despite the benefits of Pandora Plus, users can’t search for songs — so a la carte listeners might not be convinced to pay $5 a month for the new listening option.

As of this summer, Amazon has more than 63 million Prime members, an increase of 43% over the past year, and making up more than half of the company’s US base for the first time, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Even if Amazon is able to get a fraction of its subscriber base on board, it’ll immediately become a competitive player in the space.

I’ll be taking advantage of the 30-day free trial before I commit 100% — but this is exactly the kind of service (and price) I’ve been waiting for.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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