Amazon Prime has just rolled out its latest service, a bespoke streaming platform, to decidedly mixed reviews. But rather than offering something revolutionary, they’ve opted to expand on an already multi-faceted subscription package.
Welcome to the age of bespoke.
Amazon’s new streaming service, if one can call it that, is really just an additional bonus to existing Amazon Prime customers. These are people who already have video streaming, rental delivery and kindle book swapping included in their considerable £99 a year subscription fee.
It might seem like a lot but Amazon are employing a steady strategy which involves a slow absorption of assets to make it value for money in the long term. Indeed they plan to expand the service considerably as the wheel turns, previously admitting they don’t mind if it takes years to be successful.
Understandably, though, current criticism is focused on the lack of available content. As a general rule all music included in the service is at least 6 months old, whereas competitors such as Spotify boast exclusive first releases and up-to-the-minute content.
Sustainability is clearly foremost in Amazon’s thoughts on strategy, and it’s an area other streaming models are yet to get a handle on. Most seem destined to burn out or topple over as they struggle to prove profitable. For Spotify, current royalty legislation means the more they grow their user base the higher their costs will be.
In this unstable climate, Amazon is striving to be the one essential service that could be the alternative to subscribing to a host of others.
Bizarrely the lack of recent content on Amazon Prime could really be its saving grace. Record labels have long been concerned by the impact on sales caused by the easy access to their music provided by streaming services. Revenue from streaming brings in a paltry percentage of physical sales. They can, however, see the benefits of a steady trickle coming in from their back catalogues and this is exactly what Amazon Prime provides.
Without detracting from upfront sales, Amazon Prime offers record labels a secure source of revenue from music that otherwise would have made very little. And who knows other features they could add as the service grows?
On first glance £99 does seem like a lot but once you’ve deducted your Netflix (£84 per annum), Spotify (£120 per annum), any other subscriptions you have and include the priceless feeling that you could be aiding the future of the music industry, then it really doesn’t seem all that much.