Amazon wants to compete in just about every arena, not just as a company that sells you stuff, but as a streaming media company. That has its ups and downs, and nowhere is that more evident than the newly launched Amazon Prime Music service, a good idea that doesn’t entirely come together.
When it comes to streaming music, Amazon is struggling. Anybody who’s tried using their Cloud Player knows that firsthand. Still, there are sections of good ideas in there; having any album you bought off the site stored in the cloud is handy, especially if you lose all your data, for example.
Mostly what undoes Prime Music, though, is Amazon’s love of restrictions and inability to leverage its advantages. Take, for example, the music selection: There are entire labels, such as Sub Pop and Matador, completely missing, not to mention rather glaring gaps like the Rolling Stones and Drake. Worse is how Amazon tries to make up for it; if you go to the Prime Music page, you’ll notice there are plenty of playlists essentially pushing alternatives. There’s no Katy Perry, but here’s every Pink song ever recorded! The indie selection is pretty weak as well, with plenty of bands omitted.
The updated Amazon MP3 app, now called Amazon Music, is unfortunately just as much of a hash. To play a Prime song, you need to sign into the app, find the song, select it, put it in your library, go to your library, and THEN play it. If the entire idea is streaming music at your fingertips… why can’t you play it directly from the app?
Another extremely odd omission is the total lack of recommendation engines. Amazon has an enormous pile of data when it comes to your taste in music, and yet, there’s nothing on the site or in the app that even hints at recommendations. If the entire idea is to help you find music you want to buy, and Amazon makes no bones about the commerce end of things… then where’s the help to find that music?
It is useful in its own way, and it’s not nearly as bad as what was rumored. And really, it’s just another gimmick tacked onto Amazon Prime. But as far as competing with the other services, Amazon is going to have to either pay up for all the music or cash out of the game.