Amazon goes radio ga-ga over new Prime Music features

Amazon goes radio ga-ga over new Prime Music features
Amazon goes radio ga-ga over new Prime Music features

Amazon Prime Music has been given a number of notable updates some six months after its launch in the UK - with radio stations and lyrics added to the service.

Prime Music is part of the Amazon Prime bundle. It sits alongside golden child Prime Instant Video, the company's photo-storage offering and one-day deliveries on things bought through Amazon.

Amazon has always been keen to distance Prime Music from the likes of Spotify. It's not after the music 'superfan', instead it is looking to entice those who would never spend £120 a year for music - the price of a year subscription to Spotify.

It is hoping that the addition of algorithmically created - the themes have been chosen by experts to give them that human touch - 'radio' stations will broaden the service's appeal and get users who already use Prime Music to listen to a wider gamut of music.

"Listening hours are moving ahead of new users so the people who are using Prime Music now are using it more," said Paul Firth, Head of Amazon Music UK to techradar.

"We believe that we have built something that is really working for the mainstream music fan. We are growing month on month but there are millions of customers who use the Prime service in the UK, tens of million around the world, that we still haven't gone after yet. So, the potential for growth in massive."

Station to station

The addition of Prime Stations to Prime Music is, according to Firth, the natural progression from the playlists the service currently offers and one big way to increase listening numbers.

"Playlists have been more popular in the UK, than the US. As a percentage of listening they were about twice as popular," said Firth.

"You want to give people who won't spend £120 on a service the easy way into streaming and for us this was playlists. Stations are an extension of that - they are an easy way for customers to get into Prime Music.

"You choose an artist, you choose a genre and you have music all day long. You can give 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' to songs to fine tune and personalise that station to you. But you don't have to, you can just listen."

Amazon Prime Music

The stations on offer at launch are wide ranging. There are artist-led stations - everyone from Little Mix to The Beatles - and more genre specific, where you can sample a bit of Blues Rock or Vocal Jazz if you are that way inclined.

Word play

While radio stations offer a passive, lean back way to listen to music, on the flipside is Amazon's inclusion of lyrics in many of its music streams.

This is something Spotify brought to its service back in February - and improved recently with Genius integration - and Amazon is hoping the addition of lyrics will offer up more interaction with Prime Music. Called X-Ray Lyrics, the feature was soft launched recently but now Amazon is going big with the feature.

While some may see lyrics as a bit of a gimmick, used only for home-set karaoke nights, Amazon is hoping that by offering lyrics it can better bridge the divide between digital music and CDs. Lyrics were always the main focal point of liner notes so it makes sense to offer them in an interactive way in the streaming world.

Although the feature is still in its early stages, Amazon did see the popularity of X-Ray Lyrics rise when it was used in a more sombre way, after the passing of David Bowie.

"With the release of Blackstar and the aftermath of David Bowie's death we had the lyrics of that album and so many people were interacting with the lyrics there, with people talking about him knowing what was going to happen," said Firth.

With the arrival of Prime Stations and X-Ray Lyrics on Prime Music, Amazon isn't out to poach users from Spotify but to entice those who already have Prime and have yet to press play on Prime Music.

While these new additions won't wake the sleeping giant, they may be enough to give it a stir.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.