The new Ministry of Sound: Amazon & their move into music

In the last 5 years Vinyl records have made a phenomenal comeback, and this year it’s been suggested that cassette tapes are also making a big return with an estimate of 75,000 tapes being sold by the end of this year! Music seems to be a very profitable business. It comes as no surprise that Amazon has its own platform on the marketplace for music. In this section, consumers can buy bestselling songs & albums, stream music & download digital music.

Amazon’s Music section also makes looking for physical copies of music simpler. As a marketplace, Amazon breaks down music into different genres, bestsellers, new/upcoming releases and the format eg. CD or Vinyl. This provides albums/songs with much more visibility if they are properly implemented within Amazon’s algorithm. Amazon also gives consumers who buy eligible physical copies of music such as CDs and Vinyl records, an MP3 version that is added to the Your Music library. This feature is called AutoRip and will appear into your library approximately 48 hours after the order has been shipped. Only orders shipped and sold by Amazon will have the AutoRip feature though.

amazon music hompage
The Amazon Music homepage

Nietzsche once claimed, “Without music, life would be a mistake” and Amazon appears to have taken this literally and added streaming music as another of their services. Amazon first entered the music streaming business in September 2007 in the US and December 2008 for the UK. The service originally offered over 2 million songs but now subscribers have access to up to 50 million depending on the account they have; Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited (AMU).

Prime Music is included with a Prime membership account but only features a streaming catalogue of over 2 million songs. Users get ad-free listening, unlimited skips and the ability to download songs onto their phone and tablet. It is estimated that 80 million people are Prime users meaning that a large population of people have access to the service. It can be assumed that not all Prime account holders use Prime Music though. On the other hand, Amazon Household means families can share Prime benefits including Prime Music which may increase its usage. A fair description of Prime Music is that it simply gives a sample of Amazon’s true music platform. As a free service for all Prime users, Amazon has a large initial demographic to give a taste of Amazon Music Unlimited. In short, Prime Music holds a high conversion potential because users have already shown interest in subscribing to other Amazon services.

AMU is Amazon’s true rival platform to the likes of Spotify & Apple Music. It requires an additional subscription to Amazon Prime, but users don’t need to be a Prime member to subscribe. It holds all the same features as Prime Music but with a much larger selection of songs. Recently, Amazon Music Unlimited was noted as the fastest growing music streaming service with a growth of 70% in the past year.

Both services come with thousands of playlists created by Amazon’s Music experts, and personalised streaming stations. They both accommodate unlimited plays and can be played on phone via app, Echo, Alexa or computer.

There are approximately 17.5M consumers in the UK that use a music streaming platform compared to 129.1M in the US

Amazon also provides a self-service programme for selling media products directly on their marketplace called Advantage. It enables artists such as musicians and other content providers to list and sell their products on right alongside products that have massive marketing and distribution. This service is only available in the US right now though. Similar to a Vendor Account, Advantage sellers ship their inventory to Amazon and the product’s detail page will show that the product is “In Stock”. Advantage vendors will then be paid following a sale and orders for restock will automatically be generated when Amazon needs more. Amazon will list, promote, and sell these works without requiring a sizeable inventory as well. In short, Amazon’s Advantage Programme provides exposure combined with algorithmic optimisation for those who need it. Also, since Amazon is fulfilling these orders, they are eligible for Prime and Super Saver Shipping. Amazon claims that to customers, there is no difference between Advantage and non-Advantage products.

The minimum commitment of stock that Amazon originally asks from Advantage Vendors is two units per title

The way we interact with music is consistently changing with technology. As computer scientists create new ways to make, distribute, store and listen to music, so too must sellers make changes to keep up with consumer fashions. Amazon has remained a forerunner in music trends and tastes by sticking to their core principles, most significantly to start with the customer and work backwards. By putting the customer first, Amazon will consistently provide much desired services such as Amazon Music Unlimited to its users no matter what trends may pass in the years to come.