Amazon Releases Prime Music

Amazon jumps into the streaming music business with the release of Prime Music.

Amazon Prime

The world of digital music is complicated.  With the RIAA still occasionally chasing after folks for illegally sharing copyrighted files, and artists complaining of poor pay-outs when it comes to pay to play rates on their songs that are actually streamed on the service in question, Amazon has decided to throw their hat in the ring and offer a streaming music service to its Prime members – Prime Music.

The service, which is free to Prime members (which costs $99 USD per year for Prime 2 day shipping, Prime Photos, Prime Instant Video, Prime Music and Kindle Lending Library)provides over 1 million songs instantly available for streaming, via the web, your iOS or Android tablet or smartphone, as well as clients for Mac and PC. The service is ad-free, and you can skip as many songs as you want, two huge plusses for Prime customers, as the service is funded by your annual Prime membership fee.

With Amazon’s Prime Service now offering these 5 distinct and different services (shipping, photos, video, music and Kindle Library), the value of the service has (at least potentially) increased. While most streaming music services cost $120 USD per year (or $10USD per month), Prime gives you all five services for $100 USD, a $20 savings. If you order ANYTHING from Amazon during the year you have the service, and you stream music on a regular basis, you’re going to benefit from the service.

I’m a prime member and I have used Prime Instant Video along with two day shipping for years.  I likely will not use Music, unless I’m connected to a Wi-Fi network, if at all.  Call me old school if you must, but I don’t like using ALL of my mobile bandwidth for streaming services. While I do have AT&T with Roll-Over data, I share the account with my wife and daughter, and we do not stream music at all. Most of the bandwidth we use is used for iPhone data or hot spot services. Until Wi-Fi is available everywhere (if it ever is), and mobile data is much cheaper than it is now, I’m not going to blow it all listening to music I likely already have in my iTunes Music Library…AND on my iPhone. It’s why I bought a 64GB iDevice, and why I sync my entire music collection to my iPhone (and by the way, I still have over 20GB of free space…).

While this may not make a lot of sense for me (except over Wi-Fi, and then maybe only at work, if I don’t get busted for using a streaming service there), it may be very compelling for others that are looking for a streaming service and who are already Prime members or are considering Amazon Prime.

Interested parties can checkout Amazon Prime for more information.

The email that I got announcing Prime Music can be seen below:

“As a Prime Member, you now get unlimited access to Prime Stations — an ad-free, internet radio service you can enjoy at no additional cost to your Prime membership.

With Prime Stations, you can find a genre or artist you like and hit play to hear a continuous stream of music that you can pause, replay, or skip as many times as you’d like. As you listen and give songs a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, each station will adapt to your music tastes.

Prime Members can stream Prime Stations and over a million songs for free with the Amazon Music App on iOS, Android, Kindle Fire HD/HDX, Mac, PC, and the web.”

 

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Google I/O – The Cool Stuff: Part 1

google-io-2013A lot of cool stuff came out of Google I/O last week. Let’s take a quick look at some of them in this sweet two-part series.

Google I/O is Google’s big annual developer bash. Like Microsoft Build and Apple’s WWDC, Google I/O is designed to showcase Google’s latest goodies and achievements. The idea is to attract new developers to use the new features and functionality that will in turn attract more consumer and enterprise customers to the Google side of the mobile world.

This year, Google rolled out a number of new developments in both the desktop and mobile platform spaces. Over the next couple of days, I’m going to highlight some interesting developments from both areas and try to show you where you might find value for yourself. Today, we’re going to concentrate on the desktop.

Desktop Developments

Quick Actions in Gmail
When you get an actionable email message from someone, don’t be surprised when you can act on the item from right within Gmail. Google is rolling out Quick Action buttons that show up next to actionable items. For example, you’ll be able to RSVP for events from within the invite. Flight information will also be a featured action. Its Google’s intention to solicit their developer partners for ideas on additional buttons.

Gmail Payments
Send money via email, just like PayPal, only its Google Wallet. If you have a Google Wallet account, you can send money to anyone else with an email address. They don’t have to have Gmail, but will have to have a Wallet account.

This is nearly the EXACT same model as PayPal, which BTW, does pretty well. Like their other “me too” app Google+, which competes directly with Facebook, I expect this to have the same amount of success. People may give it a shot to see how well it does or doesn’t work, but then will either revert back to their PayPal account or simply abandon it entirely. Google’s been trying to get into the payments game for a while now with NFC and Google Wallet, It hasn’t had a lot of luck, and I don’t see Gmail Payments providing them with any kind of competitive advantage over the very well established and widely accepted PayPal.

Voice-Powered Desktop Search
This new development is meant to compete directly with Apple’s Siri. It’s been rumored that Apple would be bringing Siri to the desktop in Mountain Lion, but that update never materialized. While many Apple users are still looking for it, Google beat them to the punch with the introduction of conversational, voice powered desktop search. I would expect to see this as part of most Chromebooks as well as an extension available via Google’s Chrome browser.

Google Now Cards – Cool Reminders
This is another feature that catches up to Apple Reminders. Supporting both time and date, Google added geo-fencing to Now’s reminders. You can get a reminder to trigger in Google Now when you arrive or leave a specific geographic location.

Geo-fencing has been a bit of an issue for Apple, and the feature doesn’t work as intended. At least I’ve never been able to have it work correctly. Hopefully Google’s vast experience with Maps will help it better trigger these events and its performance will be much better than Apple Reminders’; cuz it kinda sucks…

Streaming Music Service – All Access
This is yet another area where Google beat Apple to the punch. Apple’s iRadio has been rumored to be in the works for a few years now. Unfortunately, the much anticipated and much sought after service has not materialized behind Apple’s Walled Garden of content and services.

I’m not sure how Google pulled it off, but they got to the party first with All Access. For about $10 bucks a month, you can stream “millions” of songs out of the Google Play Store or your own Google Music library. Available in the US now (and other countries in the coming months), users get a 30 day free trial with the service billed automatically after that. If you signup before 30-Jul-2013, you get the service for $8 bucks.

If you plan to use the service and don’t have a fat data plan, you better make a trip over to your cell carrier of choice and make sure you’ve got the bandwidth to support the service. Usually those people who use other streaming services like Pandora or Rdio find that once they start, they can’t stop. This is a huge win for Google as the new service works on the desktop as well as your mobile device. Hopefully, as details of the fine print come to light, we’ll find that it’s worth the cost.

Come back next time, as we’ll dive into some cool mobile developments that came out of Google I/O. It may be that the best is yet to come!

Google I/O – The Cool Stuff: Part 2

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