Watch out Spotify and Apple Music, here comes Amazon

“With the introduction of the Apple iPod in 2001,” Danny Vena writes for The Motley Fool, “The ability to download songs directly onto a pocket-sized device capable of storing thousands of songs was revolutionary.”

“The next phase was the introduction of streaming music,” Vena writes. “The dominant positions of Spotify and Apple Music are well-known to music enthusiasts, having dispatched a number of would-be contenders, but you may be surprised to learn that Amazon.com, Inc. is the third largest music subscription service globally, and it’s quickly closing in on the leaders.”

Vena writes, “The global music streaming market is expected to generate $9.7 billion by 2022, presenting a growing opportunity for the service providers.”

MacDailyNews Take: Perspective injection: Last quarter, the 90-some-odd day period just before the new ones were set to arrive, Apple sold $28.846 billion in iPhones alone. Nutshell: Today, or even 5 years from now, the global music streaming market isn’t/won’t be really that big – to Apple, at least.

“The data also showed that as of June 2017, Spotify is the undisputed leader with 140 million active users, boasting 58 million paying customers among them. Apple Music comes in a distant second with 28.2 million. Amazon comes in third with 16 million, according to MIDiA. More recent information suggests that numbers have increased slightly, with Spotify reporting over 60 million subscribers and Apple claiming 30 million,” Vena writes. “Amazon recently announced that it’s expanding its Music Unlimited service to an additional 28 countries. This will no doubt provide a boost to the music streaming subscriptions.”

“Amazon’s ace-in-the-hole may be its Echo family of smart speakers,” Vena writes. “The company is obviously seeing a correlation between the device and music subscribers, as it revealed that ‘Amazon Echo will begin to ship to these [same] new countries, enabling customers who purchase devices the ability to experience Amazon Music Unlimited,’ according to the company.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Just as Prime (free shipping) was the gateway to Prime Video’s success, so it is for Amazon’s music sales and streaming services.

36 Comments

  1. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but … delaying the HomePod is going to hurt those Apple MUSIC numbers even more. I was perfectly content paying Apple $10/month for Apple MUSIC, and waiting until Christmas for my HomePod. When they delayed it, I had enough and jumped on the Echo bandwagon. An Echo Dot w/ a Vaux rechargable battery speaker base is good enough for my ears, and is available now. What I was shocked to find out is, that the FREE Amazon Music service that comes with Prime, and can be played on my Echo Dot/Vaux is sufficient for my needs, and is now saving me $120/year on an Apple MUSIC subscription – which I cancelled 2 days after I got my Echo Dot/Vaux.

    Savings to me – $$270 in speaker.
    Plus another $120 in Apple Music subscription.
    Ability to enjoy it now instead of waiting until ??? for a HomePod … PRICELESS!

    1. If you were smart you would only be saving $85 per year. I subscribe upfront for a year at $99 and pay with a gift card that I buy at 15% off.

      Also, does Siri play music from Amazon for you on your iPhone? At home I use my Apple TV and Siri to play music.

      I;m not interested in Amazon or Google listening in on my house all day. I might not even let Apple do the same thing. Haven’t decided yet…

  2. You’ll hear a Homepod in person and you’ll dump your Echo in the garbage, where it belongs, if you love music. Seriously, you should read up on what Homepod is doing audio-wise, it’s high end stuff for a great price.

        1. That set up costs $350? Wow, great deal. I was talking about Homepod’s tech, it really is amazing considering the small package, and yes Homepod is doing some very high end stuff, tech you normally only find in sound systems that are very, very expensive.

            1. You need to learn more about HomePod then. Obviously HomePod isn’t going to beat a $20,000 audio system. It’s a small portable speaker, but it is packed with high end technology such as real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam forming, echo cancellation, spatial awareness, and they’re doing something interesting with the woofer to squeeze out much more performance than is normal for this size of speaker. All possible because it is a 360 degree array (before you tell me Google and Amazon speakers do the same things, they do not and cannot). It’s quite impressive and I expect the sound quality to be fantastic (people who have heard it already confirm this). I have a pretty good audio set up already, but I would bet four HomePods in my living room (about 1,100 sq ft) will beat my current set up, and be cheaper. Not to mention easier to set up (no running wires through my walls and floor either).

            2. I’m fine agreeing to disagree. You couldn’t be more wrong. HomePod is a great price for the tech packed into such a small footprint. It is high quality, again within the context of what it is. You cannot buy similar tech at that price point, it isn’t even close.

            3. I am a skeptic by my nature and as someone who has been playing music for 5 decades I have a very definite idea of what good sound should be. Not everyone has the same hearing or expectations.

              Bottom line is that if you are paying for it and it makes your ears happy go for it. What pisses me off are the tech articles that make outlandish claims and this speaker is a replacement for a quality home audio system like an iPhone is a replacement for my Living Room TV.

            4. I’ve been performing/recording music for 4 decades, music performance degree, if we’re measuring dicks. I know about sound and what the HomePod is doing in that footprint is very impressive. I’m not sure two HomePods in a room could be beat for the $700 price tag, because you cannot get two 360 degree speaker arrays doing complex beam forming audio for that price. I can get speakers doing equalization, sure, but that’s not even close to the same thing.

            5. Nobody said anything about Johnsons, but you know if you play that you have a very definite idea of what dynamics and response constitute good sound- that does not require a Music Degree. The attack and decay of a note is just as important as the timbre. That requires horn or speakers that do not color the sound and every material and design makes trade offs and the better designs tend to cost more money. The same is true for amplification and DACs.

              As to beam forming, it is an artificial construct to simulate spatial signal that was not present in the recorded performance. That may not mean much to close miked or direct patch recording, but it means a lot to live recording.

              As to equalization, a quality system should be able to be played essentially flat in a good room- you might want to boost the bass if the low frequencies are on a pedestal and might want to cut it some if corner mounted, but for the most part a flat setting should show a quality recording well and lay bare the faults of poorly recorded and mixed audio.

              It is quite amazing how two recordings that both sound acceptable on a cheap unit sound radically different on a good system.

              Back to the HomePod, the unit looks to be open to the air and if there is a chamber behind the unit it would have to be very small. An un-chambered speaker would have loose, sloppy bass despite software doing active correction of the signal to minimize the effect. A chambered design- ported or not- would need either a fairly large volume of a long labyrinth port to give tight bass performance. It would be a safe bet to guess Apple is relying heavily on signal processing for the bass and low midrange signal to compensate for the small speaker they are using.

              Good speakers & horns have tight bass and cheap speakers yield sloppy bass with cheap porting which trades quality for raw output. Very few speakers use horns for low frequencies because of the required size- take a look at the size and complexity of the folded bass horn in a Klipschorn.

              A speaker is about moving air and Bass and low Mids require more out of proportion to upper miss and high frequency signals. Even a lot of travel in an open or small chambered port design is going to be quite limited.

              The Physics of loudspeakers is the same for everyone- regardless of the label or brand. Apple has probably opted for a stiffer cone and DSP to tighten up for the naturally sloppy bass and open design tends to have.

            6. The HomePod woofer looks to be on the top and partially enclosed, and reviews have said it is impressive for the size of speaker. We’re not talking about HomePod beating an expensive sound system though, we’re talking about the tech packed into that footprint at that price, and it is a very good price for what you’re getting. I stand by my statement that you would have a very difficult time finding a sound system for $700 that beats two HomePods in sync.

              Also, beamforming is more about producing accurate sound in a given space. It has many uses though, but I’m fairly sure in HomePod’s case it is about compensating for the space the speaker is in and creating a more immersive audio experience.

            7. Though the Google Max is priced $50 higher than the yet unreleased HomePod, it seems to be a pretty good contender for the price range. Based on specs it may actually outdo the HomePod in the bass range.

              http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/12/11/after-apples-homepod-delay-googles-399-home-max-speaker-goes-on-sale

              https://www.cultofmac.com/506747/google-home-max-smart-speaker/

              https://www.cnet.com/news/googles-home-max-vs-apples-homepod-vs-amazons-echo-plus/

            8. Google Max should beat HomePod on pure bass, since it has two woofers to the HomePod’s one, but I doubt very much it will win on overall sound quality because it can’t do beamforming, because it isn’t a 360 degree array. From the first article you linked it says “Modifying sound based on the shape of a room, much like Apple’s forthcoming HomePod”. That actually isn’t true. You can watch the video on Google’s blog post about the Max speaker, all it is doing is adjusting the equalizer based on the surroundings.

              https://www.blog.google/products/home/brains-beauty-and-beats-google-home-max-here/

              I imagine Google Max is a fine speaker and probably good enough for lots of people, and if you like bass it’s probably a better choice, but then you also better not slag on Beats because that’s what Beats did, amp up the bass, and people generally slam them for that. However, Google Max is not in the same league as HomePod when it comes to modifying the sound output to create an immersive experience. It can’t be, it’s physics, you need a 360 degree array to do what HomePod is doing.

            9. I agree that in the beamforming area the HomePod will probably come out ahead. That remains to be seen however till a full review can be made between the HomePod and its competition.

              In the meantime for those already invested in audio equipment, it seems that the Google Max will be able to integrate with existing speaker systems to complement (and possibly work as a controller for) the audio experience. From what I gleaned from the articles that discuss integration, Google Max will adjust audio not just for itself but based on what the other 3rd party speakers are outputting.

            10. “I agree that in the beamforming area the HomePod will probably come out ahead. That remains to be seen however till a full review can be made between the HomePod and its competition.”

              No, not “probably”, and not “remains to be seen”. Front facing speakers like the Google Max CANNOT do audio beamforming, it isn’t possible. You would need an array of individual speakers, or something built in a 360 degree array like HomePod.

            11. Audio “Beamforming” only requires a minimum of 2 speakers. Google calls their technology “Smart Sound”, Sonos calls theirs “TruePlay”. I think you’re mistaking 360 degree projection of sound with beam-forming technology. So, yes, “it remains to be seen” till the time HomePod is finally out to be pitted squarely with Sonos One and Google Max.

    1. Apple tends to tout “high end” – I’m tired of paying top dollar for features that only lab equipment can differentiate. A Dot connected to a VAUX speaker base sounds pretty damned good to my ears.

  3. Audio that you had to spend $10,000+ prior to this release. It’s in the stratosphere. Echo is a hollow sound and it’s listening to your every move and blunder, like not waiting for HomePod, which by the way will cost you more because you will buy both. Unless you are really that cheap, whereas it doesn’t matter and I should just get back to my food… anxiously awaiting my home pods… a faithful cult follower who appreciate them for what they are and what they will do for my precious music and ears…

  4. Apple was certainly blindsided here, a total lack of lateral thinking on their part. If for Amazon of Google becomes synonymous with media delivery then it’s going to be tough to compete and that will potentially affect consumer device choices. Fact is they should never have been in the game if Apple had followed through on their innate initial technical/market advantages, potential and lead in music delivery which was the gateway to more encompasing media dominance.

  5. Gee……a device listening to you in your home whether you have it turned on or not…….what could go wrong if there was nefarious conduct in progress by the persons listening……….
    Yeah i know— “not a smidgeon”…..”never listened to AmEriCaNs”…..weeee know what is best……..
    righhhhhhht.
    Let’s review- Obama’s crime cabal—–Holder, Lerner, Clintons, NSA, CIA, FBI, shalllll i continue………..oh sorry, toooo soon for all you snowflakes…..LOL!!!

  6. I am and have been a customer of Amazon Prime for may years but for the most part do not use the video or music offerings. I do have a significant iTunes library and pay for iTunes Match so my CD archived stuff is available streaming.

    When I took a look at the Grand Tour Season one episode one recently I was less than impressed with the show, but I know it is somewhat popular with the usual suspects here. Maybe a few more episodes will warm me to it. I have DIRECTVNOW and lifetime HBO for free via AT&T which zero rates DTVN on AT&T Wireless.

    Like others I am less than enthralled at the prospect of an always on speaker/microphone device in the home and I have Hey Siri disabled on my iPad and iPhone. Have nothing to hide, but as a civil libertarian I am not going to give anyone unrestricted and uncontrolled access to my home by camera or speaker- especially a for-profit corporation.

    Finally I am not down with rental music, rental software or rental iPhones. I own things- buy it and it is yours. I also know artists get comparatively little from streaming services while a purchase gives them significantly more. Music worth listening to is worth buying.

    1. Unless you tape over your microphone or completely cut off it’s power by severing the line, how do you truly know any device is still not listening? Besides, if you have a speaker anywhere in your house that is powered, it is also a really low tech mic.

      1. If the speaker is not connected to a networked device it is not.

        My system is isolated from the internet and the only internet audio stream comes from the optical out of an Apple TV and an AudioEngine B1 Bluetooth device- both of which are switched off- not on standby when not in use.

        Desktop Macs are connected to monitors without connected speakers or mics and the speakers are USB out through an outboard DAC- there is not mic input except by physically connected (USB) or Bluetooth units only connected as needed.

        1. True, if not connected, even if powered, the sound received by the speaker won’t go anywhere. These days I wouldn’t put it past a government department to have somehow required DAC chip developers to embed ‘listening’ tech via speakers. In the past you only had to stick the audio plug into the mic port to work speakers that way.

  7. Apparently Amazon is very comfortable with their position in the Marketplace, so comfortable that they have no problem treating their Music Unlimited/Music Storage customers like crap. I have been trying to resolve an issue uploading 35000 song library for literally years, long before Music Unlimited was around. Every time they would put a new UI on their player, I would ever so slightly get my hopes up that the problem would fixed. with the relatively recent introduction of Music Unlimited, my hopes were once again elevated, only to find the same old problem with upload albums, which is one of the things you pay for with a full Music Unlimited subscription. This time I was determined to get it fixed, and have been going back and forth with support for the last couple of week, until they finally had a tech person from the Music division contact me so we could trouble shoot the issue in real-time. It has been a few days, and today when I was playing some music I notice there was an upgrade available. I was almost giddy. Had they actually solved the problem. I upgraded, and voila, the upload button had been grayed out. Hovering over it popped up message informing that Music Storage is being retired, with this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201379330In case you missed it, despite my having a subscription that includes 250,000 songs, it has been shut down for me as well. They will soon have one less customer.

    1. I agree that Amazon’s catalog is pathetic, at least in Canada. There is so little Canadian content even from the biggest Canadian artists. Amazon Music is not worth my time or money. I have tried it and found it wanting.

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