Amazon and Google Release Free, Ad-Supported Music Streaming on Their Respective Smart Speakers

Great minds think alike?

Echo owners in the U.S. can now listen to music for free even if they don’t have a Prime membership.
Amazon

It’s sort of the tech equivalent of those dueling banjos: Both Amazon and Google announced free, ad-supported music streaming on their respective smart speakers on Thursday.

That means Echo owners in the U.S. can “listen to an ad-supported selection of top playlists and stations for free with Amazon Music” even if they don’t have a Prime membership or a subscription to its paid offering, Amazon Music Unlimited. Similarly, Google’s equivalent, YouTube Music, has a free, ad-supported streaming service on Google Home and other speakers with Google Assistant.

“Interacting with music through voice is transforming how people engage with music—searching for a favorite station, or music by era or genre, is easier and more popular than ever before,” Amazon said in a blog post.

Amazon customers can request music by song, artist, era or genre, along with playlists like Pop Culture, Country Heat and Fuego Latino.

Google Home users will have to first select YouTube Music as their default music service in the Google Home app. Then free, ad-supported music is streamable on speakers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands and Austria, with more countries to come “soon.”

“You can ask Google Home to play the right music for any moment or mood, and YouTube Music will play the perfect station, customized to your tastes based upon your request,” Google added in a blog post.

Both platforms also offer subscription services for ad-free music. Prime members have access to more than 2 million songs and “thousands of playlists and stations” while YouTube offers Music Premium for $9.99 a month and allows users to play music on demand, along with unlimited skips, replays and downloads for offline listening.

News of Amazon’s plans for the service first came out last week, prompting some speculation as to if it will pave the way for more ads on voice-enabled devices.

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