Amazon Music guide: Everything to know about the streaming service

No surprise, Amazon's music service gels nicely with Alexa

Your ultimate guide to Amazon Music
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Amazon Music can sometimes be portrayed as an also-ran in the music streaming wars – it's not quite got the clout of Spotify or the style of Apple Music. But as Amazon's array of smart speakers picks up momentum, so too does its streaming service.

And if you're a smart home user, Amazon Music can be an incredibly easy to use music service for smart speakers, and you might find that you actually have a membership without realizing it.

Read more:How to get Spotify streaming on your Alexa devices

That said, because of the tie-in with Prime accounts, the various subscription tiers on offer, and the different streaming quality levels supported by each, Amazon Music can be confusing. We've gathered all the information you should need into a handy guide, below.

What is Amazon Music?

That might seem a basic question, but we think it's worth going over. Amazon Music is the name Amazon gives to its music streaming service, which has been around for years now.

(Remember that Amazon also sells MP3s for download, which is a different service to the streaming options we're talking about here.)

However, within the umbrella of Amazon Music there are few different types of subscription to pick from, depending on your needs and means.

Here's what they are, and how they differ...

Amazon Music guide: Everything to know about the streaming service

Amazon Prime Music

You could think of Prime Music as the basic version of Amazon Music – it's bundled in with a Prime membership, and lets members access some 2 million songs. You can stream those without ads or breaks, as with both of the other tiers.

Amazon Music Unlimited Single Device

Unlimited is the premium tier of Amazon's service, and ups the offering to 50 million songs - putting it on a par with Spotify and Apple Music.

It also has improved integration with Alexa, with more voice commands available. You also get the ability to ask the voice assistant what you're listening to, and to play songs by an artist without being particularly specific.

The Single Device plan is the cheapest, but only lets you use it with a single Echo or Fire TV device.

Amazon Music Unlimited Individual

Same 50 million-strong library as the Single Device option, but opens up streaming to all devices – from smartphones to third-party Alexa speakers – and gives you offline playback.

Amazon Music guide: Everything to know about the streaming service

Amazon Music HD

Amazon Music HD is the newest kid on the block here. It's Amazon's answer to Tidal and other sources of lossless audio, letting audiophiles and enthusiasts pay a premium price to access recordings in the highest quality possible.

The range of songs available to listen to in HD formats is the same 50 million available through Music Unlimited, but HD means they'll stream at CD-quality at 16 bits and a 44.1kHz sample rate.

This tier also includes something Amazon calls "Ultra HD" – tracks at 24-bit and sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to 192kHz – and stream in lossless FLAC. The number of these is a more ambiguous "millions".

For streaming HD, Amazon suggests a data speed of 1.5 Mbps or more (it will reduce the quality if your bandwidth connection drops), and headphones, devices and speakers that support a bitrate of 16-bit/44.1 kHz or higher.

Finally, the HD tier also gives you access to a smaller library of 3D audio tracks, however you'll need much more specialized speakers like the upcoming Echo Studio to benefit from these.

How much does Amazon Music cost?

This is where things get a little complicated. Firstly, there's Amazon Prime Music. This costs £7.99 monthly, or £79 annually – that's the pricing for an Amazon Prime membership, the only way to get Prime Music.

The next tier, Amazon Music Unlimited, is priced at £9.99 monthly. However, for existing Amazon Prime members, that's discounted to £9.99 monthly. For the Single Device plan, it's £3.99 a month.

Finally, the new Amazon Music HD subscription costs £14.99. If you're an Amazon Prime member, that's lowered to £12.99 monthly. Finally, if you're an Amazon Music Unlimited member, it's only an extra £5 monthly.

There are also discounts available for students, if that applies for you, which should knock your bill down a bit, and for family plans that can make it much cheaper for a whole family to use the streaming service under the same umbrella.

Amazon Music guide: Everything to know about the streaming service

What devices work with Amazon Music?

This might not rank as much of a surprise, but Amazon Music is most at home on Echo devices, especially those with Alexa. On these Alexa-enabled speakers, all it takes is a quick "Alexa, play Ariana Grande" command and, if Amazon Music is your default music player, you'll be jamming out almost instantly.

That applies to all Alexa-enabled speakers, actually, so whether you're talking to a Sonos Beam or an Amazon Echo Dot With Clock, it will be the same experience.

The HD tier is a more interesting one, however, as you'll need the right speakers to make use of it. It will work with your regular Echo speakers, but you're not going to notice a lot of difference. Thankfully many have a line-out, meaning you can hook them up to superior sounding speakers and still get the Alexa advantage.

Whether you're a Prime Music, Unlimited or HD user, you can stream your music through one device at a time, but you can cast that across all your home speakers, so long as they're compatible. Here's how to set up multi-room audio with Echo speakers.

If you're on a Family plan, you'll be able to have up to six individual streams at once, making sure that no-one has to listen to anyone else's tunes.

Make Amazon Music Alexa's default music service

As we said, Alexa is very much at home with Amazon Music. In case you're returning to Amazon's music service from Spotify or another competitor, though, you might need to tell Alexa to default to Amazon Music again.

To do that, follow these steps:

1. Head into the Alexa app.

2. Go to Settings.

3. Move down to Music under Alexa Preferences.

4. Now, click on Default services.

5. Make sure Amazon Music is checked. You're all done.

Some useful Alexa Commands for when you're playing Amazon Music

Once you're up and running, the following voice commands should come in handy when you're trying to get Alexa to control your music as you like.

Alexa, play."

"Alexa, stop."

Alexa, pause."

"Alexa, volume up / down."

Alexa, set volume to level [number]."

"Alexa, shuffle."

Alexa, stop shuffle."

"Alexa, what song is this?"

Alexa, who made this album?"

TAGGED    amazon    speakers

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