Amazon makes its full music streaming library free to Prime members – but there’s a catch

Woman holding tablet with Amazon Music app onscreen with yellow table surface in background
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Marina Rich)

One of the many perks of being an Amazon Prime member has been free streaming access to 2 million songs in its Amazon Music library. That perk has just gotten more juicy with today’s announcement that the company is making the full Amazon Music library available to Prime members, boosting the number of streamable songs from 2 million up to 100 million, all of it ad-free.

Along with a greatly expanded music library, Prime subscribers will gain access to “the largest catalog of ad-free podcasts,” according to Amazon. The list includes shows from the Wondery catalog, which Amazon acquired in 2020, such as Dr. Death, SmartLess, and Even the Rich. Also available for streaming ad-free are Amazon Exclusives like MrBallen Podcast: Strange, Dark & Mysterious Stories, Baby, this is Keke Palmer, and podcasts from CNN, ESPN, and The New York Times.

The new additions come with no accompanying boost in the price of an Amazon Prime membership. “We continue to innovate on behalf of our customers, and to bring even more entertainment to Prime members, on top of the convenience and value they already enjoy,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music, in the company’s release.

Prime subscribers will be able to browse the expanded offerings in an updated Amazon music app, which gains enhancements such as a Podcast Previews feature. On the music front, new discovery features are being introduced to help users find new artists based on their likes, and to stream “a collection of All-Access playlists tailored to personalized listening preferences on demand and download them for offline listening,” according to Amazon’s release.

Analysis: Free, but with a catch – a big one 

There’s no doubt that upping the number of free-to-stream songs in the Amazon Music library from 2 million to 100 million is a very appealing addition, one that makes being a Prime member more rewarding than ever. It’s like getting the Spotify free tier heaped on to your subscription, except, unlike Spotify, all those songs will come without ads.

The catch here is that you will only be able to shuffle play by artist, album, or playlist – you can’t actually select a specific song for playback. To do that, you’ll need to upgrade to a separate Amazon Music Unlimited subscription ($9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 per month, or $7.99 / £7.99 / AU$6.99 per month with an existing Amazon Prime subscription) which will provide full, unrestricted access to those 100 million songs.

Amazon Music Unlimited, which ranks high on our list of the best music streaming services, also lets subscribers stream music in uncompressed and high-res formats, along with Spatial Audio and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio on certain tracks. Those very valuable extras aren’t provided for free to Amazon Prime members, though it could be argued that the average non-audio enthusiast Prime member wouldn’t really care.

But even without things like Lossless and Spatial Audio, as well as the ability to select a specific track to stream from the 100 million song-strong Amazon Music library, an Amazon Prime membership is looking better than ever. 

For $14.99 / £8.99 (opens in new tab) / AU$6.99 (opens in new tab) per month or $139 / £95 / AU$59 (opens in new tab) per year, you get free fast shipping, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, ad-free podcasts, Prime Gaming, 3,000-plus books and magazines with Prime Reading, and unlimited photo storage on Amazon Photos (this is just 5GB in Australia though). That’s a lot of stuff for the money. Amazon clearly wants to keep us roped in its rich ecosystem, and free access to loads more music is just one more way to make that happen.

Al Griffin
Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US

Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine. 

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.