Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos watches a video presentation from the wings during the launch of the new Amazon Fire Phone, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Seattle.
Image: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Amazon has eaten away at the publishing industry, upended retail giants and begun to change the world of supply and fulfillment.
Now it may want to do the same to the young, highly competitive and potentially lucrative music streaming industry.
The e-commerce behemoth is said to working to secure broader licensing rights for a more complete music streaming that could be a “Spotify-killer,” according to a report from The New York Post, citing unnamed sources.
Reps for Amazon did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Amazon currently offers a limited selection of music streaming from select major record labels as part of Amazon Prime, its $ 99-a-year subscription service that offers expedited shipping with an increasing variety of music and movie streaming options thrown in too.
The company is of course also a distributor of music the old-fashioned way — on CDs, vinyl, etc.
Perhaps the most surprising detail about the latest rumor is a claim that the expanded music offering would operate as a standalone paid service with a fee — rumored to be $ 9.99 a month — separate from Amazon Prime.
In recent years, Amazon has ramped up its digital offerings in a clear effort to sweeten the pot for those who may not otherwise be willing to subscribe for expedited shipping alone. The more people Amazon signs up, the more recurring fees it generates — and the more often customers potentially shop on site to justify the fee and take advantage of the faster shipping.
That strategy has been working: Amazon revealed last year that its Prime customer base now numbers in the “tens of millions.”
By providing the music streaming service separately, it could give Amazon an alternative product to pair with products (the rumor is it might offer a discount when purchased together with its Echo personal assistant). But that would nonetheless mark a departure from its usual strategy. Consider that it has invested heavily to build what is effectively a mini-Netflix, complete with original programming, and yet that offering is not broken out, but rather kept with Prime.
Spotify is far from the only billion-dollar company in the market. Apple and Google are both investing in shifting from music downloads to music streaming.
Prominent startups like Deezer and Jay Z’s Tidal are also in the fray.
Ironically enough, the addition of another major business like Amazon — which has had a thorny relationship at times with content creators — could potentially give the record labels more leverage in negotiations, as no one service dominates completely.