Amazon expected to take on Apple Music with free, ad-based music service next week

Amazon is reportedly working on a free, ad-supported music offering as another option to its paid Amazon Music Unlimted service to better compete with Apple Music and Spotify. According to anonymous sources speaking to Billboard, the free plan could go live as soon as next week.

Billboard reports that Amazon is currently in talks to make an ad-based, free tier available for its music service. The company is expected to advertise the plan with its Echo speakers. As of now, Amazon Music Unlimited is included with Prime memberships, or runs $10/month standalone, the same as Apple Music and Spotify.

Billboard notes that it’s not clear how many paying subscribers Amazon currently has, though it may have been around 20 million last year for all of its services. In contrast, Apple Music reportedly hit 28 million paying subscribers in the US alone, beating out Spotify in the region.

Amazon hasn’t disclosed how many paying music subscribers it has, but some reports last year estimated it counts over 20 million subscribers across its offerings and expect it to gain steadily thanks to integration with its market-leading smart speakers.

But Spotify is still the market leader for global users when it comes to music services, with close to 100 million subscribers (including paid and free). Amazon’s move could create momentum by leveraging its large install base of Echo speakers and hopefully turn listeners of a free tier into paying customers. In comparison, Apple Music doesn’t offer a free tier (beyond a 3-month trial).

Amazon is also reportedly working on an AirPods competitor with the goal of offering better quality than Apple’s fully wireless earbuds at a cheaper price. They are expected to offer noise cancellation and water-resistance and could arrive in the second half of the year. Naturally, they’ll also lean on Alexa support.

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