Amazon Announces Free Music Streaming for Prime Customers

Amazon Prime Music

The founder of Amazon just posted a surprise announcement on the front page of the site. From now on, members of Amazon’s Prime shipping service can also enjoy free music! They’ll get unlimited access to over a million songs — with no commercials — and can even download songs to their phone or tablet for free!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s new service, point your browser to

There’s lots of familiar artists — from Bruce Springsteen and Madonna to Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Blake Shelton, and The Lumineers — and Amazon promises there’s over 10,000 albums to choose from. Amazon promises their selection will grow — which is good, because right now it seems like some artists are represented more than others. Amazon’s “100 Popular Artists” page shows which albums will be available, and it definitely seems like some artists have more albums available than others.

      40 Johnny Cash albums
      16 Willie Nelson
      13 Dave Matthews Band
      12 Elvis Presley
      11 Kidz Bob Kids
      10 Billy Joel
      9 Van Morisson
      8 Ozzy Osbourne
      8 John Denver
      8 Talking Heads
      7 Journey

But it’s still an impressive service, and Amazon’s doing everything they can to make it easy to use. “We wanted to remove the barriers between you and the music you love,” writes Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, listing out the barriers that are being removed — “cost” and “interruptions”. He also points out that there’s also no limit on how many times you can listen to a song, which is different than other streaming music service I’ve seen. And Amazon is also trying to match their ability to recommend new songs, removing the barrier he describes as “deciding what to listen to.

“Just play any of the hundreds of Prime Playlists our music experts have created for you.”

It’s one more benefit for their already-attractive “Prime” shipping service — which also includes free two-day shipping and free videos from Amazon’s library, plus the ability to “borrow” a new book each month from “the Kindle Lending Library.” And Amazon also provided a clue about just how popular their Prime program is. I’ve never seen them actually reveal the number of subscribers to the service, but today they annouced it has “tens of millions of members”. So that means that, at minimum, there’s at least 20 million people using Amazon’s Prime Service.

Which means 20 million people just got free access to Amazon’s streaming music service!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s new service, point your browser to

Hurricane Sandy vs. Amazon

Sand bags for hurricane Sandy in New York City

My friend Nate lives in New York City — and he’s really grateful to Amazon. On Friday Nate told a remarkable story about life in the water-damaged city after it was hit by Hurricane Sandy. It was the largest hurricane ever to come out of the Atlantic Ocean, and it had had a huge impact on the millions of people who lived in the big city.

New York’s subway system wasn’t providing any service below 34th street “for an undisclosed period of time,” Nate posted on his Facebook page, “and cabs cost about $25 each way to work right now (and sometimes more).” But Nate felt guilty using any gas-powered vehicle, since it was obvious that there was going to be an ongoing shortage of gasoline. The answer turned out to be surprisingly simple: Nate decided to get a bicycle! “I tracked down a decent folding bike for less than it’ll cost in taxis next week alone,” he eventually posted on Facebook.

But here’s the funny part. Nate just placed his order on, around 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon. “I’ve got Amazon Prime, so the order shipped for free…” he posted the next morning on Facebook. And his bicycle had already arrived! “In 16 hours,” he posted in amazement. “A BIKE. To Post-Sandy NYC. For Free.

And Amazon was also delivering supplies to other New Yorkers, too. (“Take a guess,” joked The Huffington Post. “Why were two-gallon gas cans one of the most popular items sold on Amazon this week?”) People were also ordering gas-powered generators and even lanterns from Amazon, according to the Post‘s article. Difficult times called for creative solutions, and to get the supplies they needed, at least some people turned to for things they couldn’t find locally.

New York City after hurricane Sandy - the Plaza Shops underwater

In fact, in a comment on the article, someone reported that my friend Nate wasn’t the only person who was riding a bicycle across the gas-starved city. “There are thousands of them on the streets of New York City right now.” New York’s transportation department estimated that just on Thursday, there were 17,000 more bicyclists crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and the three other biggest bridges in Manhattan, Queensboro, and Williamsburg. Most of the bikes were probably in New York before the flood, but Nate was delighted that he could actually get one shipped in!

After the hurricane, people began to look at the world a little differently, and it was nice to hear stories about people reaching out to help others. One fitness center even posted a sign offering free hot showers or an outlet for recharging cellphones to anyone who needed it, Nate posted on Facebook. “I’m trying to figure out how I can order stuff from Amazon to be delivered to the people who need it on Staten Island or the Jersey Shore,” he added later, “because apparently Amazon are the only people who can get things places right now.” It’s nice to see Amazon’s expertise in shipping having a positive impact on people who really need it.

One of Nate’s friends even joked, “Maybe the government should commandeer Amazon until the crisis is over.” But Nate wasn’t even sure that was a joke, because he’d been so amazed by the way Amazon performed after the hurricane. “That was kind of my point. I was looking at getting some solar panels or generators shipped out using Amazon Prime. They have them.

“Apparently they could deliver them in 16 hours if I ordered them!”