Amazon Prime Opens Up Its Record Vaults

Amazon both sweetens the deal for Prime members as well as music listeners willing to pay for its service a la carte.

Man enjoying music he's streaming on his headphones
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just as Amazon Prime takes away some Prime perks, including Amazon Treasure Truck and Amazon Drive, it also is adding ones. And that could be literal music to the ears of millions of Amazon Prime members. And if you’re not a Prime member – maybe you canceled your membership because of the rising cost of Amazon Prime, you might also want to listen up.

Amazon Music this week told Amazon Prime members (opens in new tab) it has opened its vaults to give Prime members access to 100 million songs – Amazon’s full catalog – ad-free instead of the 2 million they had access to until this week. The additional music, plus access to most of Amazon’s top podcasts ad-free, comes at no additional cost to subscribers. Previously, the full catalog could only be accessed by paying for Amazon Music Unlimited.

But wait, there’s more – and less. The downside of this enhanced perk is you’re not still not going to get everything cool Amazon Music has to offer. Peak access and features still continue to be reserved for those paying for Amazon Music Unlimited. That service includes ad-free and on-demand access to those 100 million songs, but in HD and Ultra-HD quality. That subscription includes offline listening, a catalog of spatial audio and access to most of the top podcasts in Amazon’s collection ad-free.

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We took Amazon Music Unlimited for a ride (the first 30 days are free). The sonic richness of Ultra-HD is worth the extra streaming fee (especially if you’re moving on from Pandora or Apple’s streaming fees). Taylor Swift’s new “Midnights” studio album sounded rich and lush, with Jack Antonoff’s (and Swift’s) production work swirling from speaker to speaker. Reaching back to Bruce Springsteen and Eminem classics, we heard sonic touches that escaped us in previous listening formats. Streaming lyrics (also available on other services) is a nice touch.

So that’s what you will need to pay for. How much? If you’re already a Prime member, Amazon Music Unlimited will cost you $8.99 a month. But as we mentioned, Amazon Music Unlimited is also available, basically, a la carte, to people who aren’t members. They will pay an additional $1 a month, to $9.99. 

That is exactly the current cost of Spotify Premium (boasting 80 million songs) and just under Apple Music (opens in new tab) at $10.99, with access to 100 million songs.  

Bob Niedt
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.