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The latest feature added to Amazon's $100 annual Prime subscription is a music-streaming service called Prime Music. With it, you can stream around one million songs for free, on Amazon's website, your computer, or on your smartphone, via the recently updated Amazon Music app (iOS|Android).
There's hardly a shortage of music subscriptions out there, but Amazon is hoping that you'll use theirs if you already have a Prime subscription, which includes free two-day shipping on thousands of products, video streaming for movies and TV shows, and the Kindle lending library.
Unfortunately, as you'll see in this review, Amazon Music's lackluster app and limited music selection just don't hold up to Spotify, Beats Music, or Rdio. It's also missing a radio feature (which both Spotify and Rdio have) in which the app creates a station of music based on a song or artist, and picks songs for you. Even though I'm a Prime customer myself, I'll still pay around $10 every month for another streaming service that gives me all the music I want and a better overall experience.
Getting around the app
You can use Amazon Music without a Prime membership, but you won't have access to any of the free music in the app. If are already a Prime subscriber, simple sign into your account when you first open the app.
The Amazon Music apps have been around for a few years, but they were updated in June 2014 to add Prime Music. The Android app, which is the focus of my review, has a plain, dark design, but I wouldn't call it simple. There's a left-side menu bar that you'll rely on to jump to different parts of the app. From top to bottom, that menu bar is divided into four sections: Prime, Library, Store, and More. The two sections you'll likely use the most are Prime and Library, since those are where you search for free music and then listen to it.
You can browse free music included with your Prime subscription in the Prime section. There's a dedicated section for playlists (which I'll touch on later) and a section to navigate all of available Prime music, grouped by songs and albums. The Prime section is a bit of a mess -- by default, it opens to a list of popular songs, which is a mix of brand new titles and older stuff that just happens to be getting a lot of listens right now. You can then tap over to the list of albums and scroll through a grid of album covers. Tap any album to view the full song list and add it to your Library.
Since browsing the Prime section isn't that intuitive, I recommend you use search in the top-right corner. You can search for any artist, song, or playlist in the entire Amazon music catalog, including both free and paid music. You can filter the results by Prime music only, which is helpful when you only want to find music you don't have to buy.