Just when you thought your subscription bills couldn't get any bigger, Amazon has announced a price increase for its Music Unlimited streaming service – and it could sadly point to a similar boost to Spotify's fees.
Starting from February 21, subscribers to both the individual and student Amazon Music Unlimited plans in the US and UK (opens in new tab) will have to shell out more for the same service. The individual plan will go up from $9.99 / £9.99 to $10.99 / £10.99 per month, while students will have to pay $5.99 / £5.99 a month (up from $4.99 / £4.99).
These rises have unfortunately become the norm across music streaming services, with Apple also boosting its individual plan by the same amount last October. As you can see from the table below, Spotify is now something of an outlier among its closest streaming rivals, but there are good reasons to believe that won't remain the case for long.
|Service||Monthly price||Monthly student price|
|Amazon Music Unlimited||$10.99 / £10.99 (from Feb)||$5.99 / £5.99|
|Apple Music||$10.99 / £10.99||$5.99 / £5.99|
|Spotify||$9.99 / £9.99||$5.99 / £5.99|
|Deezer||$10.99 / £11.99||$5.99 / £5.99|
|Tidal HiFi||$9.99 / £9.99||$4.99 / £4.99|
At Spotify's earnings call in October 2022, the streaming service's CEO Daniel Ek said that a price rise in the US "is one of the things that we would like to do". He added that "if you think in light of our competitors raising prices, that obviously gives us more confidence going into it, too".
In other words, Amazon Music Unlimited's upcoming rise only makes an imminent Spotify rise more likely. This could also potentially affect the long-mooted Spotify HiFi service for high-resolution audio fans, which has previously been rumored to cost $19.99 per month. If the price of that 'Platinum' tier, if it ever arrives, goes above that rumored price point, it could become a tough sell in the current climate.
Streaming services do vary in their bitrates and audio quality, which is why Spotify currently lags behind Tidal, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited in our guide to the best music streaming services. In fact, Tidal HiFi currently looks like a particularly good deal, particularly as it generally pays artists a higher amount per stream than its rivals.
Analysis: Free trials can provide temporary relief
The most annoying thing about these streaming price hikes is that you aren't getting anything extra beyond vague promises of future improvements. Amazon says the upcoming Music Unlimited rise, for example, is so that it can "offer you our service in the usual quality".
For many, these monthly increases can start to add up and make a music streaming service difficult to justify. Some services do offer cheaper options – for example, on Music Unlimited there's a Single-Device plan (which will remain at the current $4.99 / £4.99 per month price). But as the name suggests, this means you can only stream music on one Amazon Echo device.
If you're prepared to jump around and set some reminders, another option is to embrace each streaming service's free trial to reduce bills to zero in the short term. As we showed in our recent guide to canceling subscriptions, it's possible to get ten months (or eight months, in the UK) of free music if you chain together the free trials on offer from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify Premium, Tidal, YouTube Music and Deezer.
Naturally, these offers are only available to new subscribers, so you won't be able to embrace trials for services you currently use (or have already used in a free trial). But if you're looking to escape the music streaming price hikes in the short term, those free trials are certainly worth exploring – as long as you set a reminder to cancel before that first monthly charge.
- via Billboard (opens in new tab)