Amazon and Google Both Launch Free, Ad-Supported Music Streaming for Smart Speaker Owners
Amazon and Google both announced free, ad-supported streaming music services for smart speaker owners today. Amazon’s Day One blog said that “beginning today, customers in the U.S. who do not yet have a Prime membership or a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited will now be able to listen to an ad-supported selection of top playlists and stations for free with Amazon Music on compatible Alexa-enabled devices.” Since many of Amazon Echo smart speaker owners are Prime members already, this update is unlikely to impact a lot of people. However, it is a good move by Amazon given that listening to music is the most frequently used smart speaker feature on a monthly and daily basis according to a national survey of U.S. adults earlier this year.
YouTube Music Available for Free on Google Home Smart Speakers
Not to be outdone, Google also announced its own free, ad-supported music service for smart speaker owners. YouTube’s blog elaborated that “Starting today, YouTube Music is offering a free, ad-supported experience on Google Home speakers (or other Google Assistant-powered speakers).” The new service is available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, the U.K, Austria, Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. The post said more countries would come soon. Previously, Google Home users could only access YouTube Music Premium with a paid subscription of $9.99 per month.
Both ad-supported services from Amazon and Google have more limited functionality than their subscription-based offerings. Users of the free service will be able to request songs, artists, albums, genres, and other categories, but will not be able to select an exact item. Services refer to these selections as stations. An upgrade to a subscription offers more control as well as the ability to listen on multiple devices and download music for offline listening.