9 October 2017

REVIEW: Amazon Music Unlimited

Non-stop tunage.

It's a tough job, ours. Amazon recently got in touch and asked us if we'd like to try a year's subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited, the 'everything company's' answer to streaming services like Spotify. Naturally, we said 'Oh, go on then', and have spent the last couple of weeks streaming and downloading tunes to our hearts' content. Here's what we made of it.

First a confession: here at Test Pit Towers we regularly binge watch TV shows and movies on Netflix, Sky's Now TV, and also Amazon's own Prime Instant Video. A lot of media gets consumed from these humble premises... but not much music. None of us are massive music fans, and whenever we've wanted to hear a particular tune, be it old or brand new, we've hit up YouTube for a video. However, since reviewing the Roxi, which features access to a pretty impressive music library, we've started to enjoy the delights of audio streaming, so the arrival of Amazon Music Unlimited is, well, music to our ears (sorry).

In a nutshell, Amazon Music Unlimited grants you unlimited access to more than 40 million songs, and thousands of playlists and stations. You can stream live via the website or mobile app, and even download songs to listen to them offline - great for saving your mobile data when out and about. The music library includes all the recent releases of singles and albums, as well as a huge back catalogue of older songs - stretching all the way back into the classical realm. Basically if you can think of any song, it'll be there, waiting for you to listen to it.

But what does a service like that have over the likes of the aforementioned YouTube? Well, Amazon Music Unlimited offers a tailored service where songs and artists will be suggested to you based on what you've already listened to, and also allows you to create your own playlists for different situations and moods. And, most importantly for mobile users, the ability to download tracks on your home WiFi before heading out is fantastic, and saves both data and battery on your phone. YouTube can't do that.

Plus, having access to more than 40 million songs is a quite an odd thing to get your head around. Amazon Prime customers already have access to Prime Music, with about two million songs at their fingertips, but the sheer added value of the Unlimited package is quite intimidating. Not that two million songs is anything to be sniffed at, mind. But seriously, 40 million?!? We've yet to search for a track that we couldn't find. Or rather, that Alexa couldn't find for us.

Yep, download the Amazon Music Unlimited app (iOS, Android and Amazon Fire, obviously) and you get access to their smart assistant, Alexa. You can use the AI to search for tracks and artists with just your voice, and we were impressed to see that Alexa both understood us, and found the music, each and every time. It was actually the first time we'd used Amazon's Alexa, as Test Pit Towers has, purely by chance of what kit we were sent first, become an "Okay, Google" household.

Speaking of smart speakers, if you own an Echo or Echo Dot you can actually get a cheaper subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited to stream through one individual Echo. You can't download anything to it (but why would you want to?) but all 40 million tracks are available to you, searchable via your voice - all for only £3.99 per month.

And on that note, price. The year subscription we were given will set you back £79 per year, or £7.99 per month if you want to keep it rolling with a chance to pull out whenever. That price is dependant on you already being a Prime member, otherwise it is £9.99 per month. There is also a Family Plan for £149 per year (£14.99 per month) which allows six separate Amazon account users to access it, meaning each member of the family can have their own account, each with their own playlists, favourites, and listen history.

Depending on what amount of music is listened to in your house, it may or may not be worth it. As we're already Prime members and use the Instant Video service a lot, an extra £79 a year for the music doesn't seem like a massive expense, especially considering the high quality of the tracks (unlike that of streamed music from YouTube). Also, if you've ever bought a CD or mp3 download from Amazon in the past, you'll find those tracks waiting for you when you subscribe. We were surprised to find several albums in the 'Purchased' section, as we'd bought them nearly a decade ago and have since lost the disks. Nice touch.

If you're a music fan and spend lots of time listening to tunes both at home and on the move, Amazon Music Unlimited is very much worth your dosh. It's been a real delight to have new songs and artists recommended to us each day, to then download an album or two, to listen to without incurring data charges while on the commute to the office. The UI of the app and site are clean and user-friendly, and everything just seems to work, each and every time we used it.

Sign up for your free 30 day trial at www.amazon.co.uk

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