Amazon, Pandora To Launch $5 Subscription Music Services In Coming Weeks

Somewhere along the line it was decided that $10 per month would be the standard rate for an unlimited streaming music subscription. Spotify and Apple Music both charge that amount for their base service, as do several others such as Rhapsody and Google Music. But is that too much for the general public at large? Amazon and Pandora seem to think so, as both are preparing to launch streaming services for as low as $5 per month.

Pandora is a bit different than the other music services named. It's essentially an Internet radio model that learns what types of music you like and tries its best to play tracks it thinks you'll be into. Starting perhaps as early as this week, it will offer an expanded version of its $5 platform with new features that go above and beyond removing ads. Subscribers will be able to skip more songs and store several hours of playlists in the cloud, The New York Times says it heard from three people claiming to have direct knowledge of what Pandora's planning to do.


Looking further down the road, Pandora may also offer an on-demand music service with tens of millions of songs that listeners can queue up on a whim. Like Spotify and many others that compete in the on-demand space, that service is expected to cost $10 per month.

As for Amazon, it already offers a streaming music service with a limited catalog of titles as a perk for its Prime members. However, it's planning to introduce another music service with a full catalog of songs that will also run $10 per month, though customers who use its Echo voice activated speaker system will receive a 50 percent discount on the service.

Neither of these lower cost options are likely to topple the likes of Apple Music and Spotify, as they both come with caveats (for Pandora, it's not an on-demand service at that price point and Amazon's $5 fee only applies to specific customers). But what it might do is bring more people into the fold, specifically those that are casual music listeners.

Some feel that the standard $10/month rate is just too high. That works out to $120 per year, whereas data from market research firm MusicWatch pegs annual spending at around $67 for the average music customer in the U.S. That's up from $55 a year ago, but still down from $80 in the late 1990s when CD spending hit its peak.