I couldn’t help but laugh when Amazon first announced Prime Music. Did the the company really think it could take on streaming giants like Spotify and Pandora with a smaller library and nothing less than six months old? The answer seemed like a pretty obvious no, and I left it at that.
Then, in October, my free Apple Music trial ended and I was left scrambling for a new service. I had already tried Spotify, Rdio, Tidal and pretty much every subscription service you can think of. Then I remembered the orange Amazon Prime Music icon hidden away on the third screen of my iPhone, and figured I’d give it another shot. After all, it does come free with Amazon Prime.
A month later I’m still happily using Amazon Prime Music. It may not be perfect, but it’s still pretty great. That’s especially true if, like me, you’re just as happy listening to classic rock and rap albums than the current radio hits anyway.
The app offers a pretty big back catalogue of classic records. That includes music from Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel and the Beach Boys, along with newer artists like The Gorillaz and D’Angelo. Amazon’s also done a decent job of adding newer music. You still won’t find the latest from Drake or The Weeknd, but I was able to download the soundtrack from hip hop broadway smash Hamilton just a few weeks after it was released.
Unfortunately, Amazon’s recommendations aren’t very useful. Downloading Hamilton prompted the app to suggest pretty much every other Broadway album available, and listening to Paul Simon’s greatest hits sparked a recommendation for Tracy Chapman of all people. You’d think the company’s massive troves of data would mean better suggestions, but hopefully it will get better over time.
My one other issue is that streaming on Prime Music will lag and buffer more often than not. That might just be an issue with my Wi-Fi, but I find it easier to download an album first and then play it from my library later. On the plus side, that means I also have plenty of music to listen to when I’m on the subway without a signal.
The company’s music streaming service is also a nice perk if you own an Amazon Echo. The smart speaker also works with Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, though you have to sync your smartphone first. With Prime Music, all you need is a quick voice command: “Alexa, play music by Billy Joel.”
Like I said before, Amazon Music Prime isn’t perfect. It’s missing a lot of the features included in competing apps, and even the stuff it does offer can be hit or miss. Still, for a free service thrown in with Amazon Prime it’s pretty great, and definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a new music streaming app.