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Amazon launches free, ad-supported music service for Alexa devices

Google introduced a similar YouTube Music service Thursday, too.

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The service is geared toward customers who own Alexa-enabled devices, like the Echo Dot, but aren't Prime members or subscribers to Amazon Music Unlimited.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon on Thursday launched a new music service for its Alexa devices that's free to use but includes ads.

The service, available starting today in the US, will provide access to top Amazon Music playlists and thousands of stations. It's specifically geared for customers who own Alexa-enabled devices but aren't Prime members or subscribers to Amazon Music Unlimited.

Amazon's Prime membership service, which costs $119 annually, includes access to a library of more than 2 million songs and thousands of stations and playlists. Amazon Music Unlimited, which starts at $7.99 a month, offers over 50 million songs.

With music being one of the primary uses for smart speakers, like the Alexa-powered Echo devices, it makes sense for Amazon to offer more ways to give Echo owners access to songs. After starting folks off on the limited library available for free, Amazon could convince some of them to transition over to a paid service, such as Prime or Music Unlimited.

Alexa already works with a variety of other free and paid music services, including Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music.

To use the new service, non-Prime customers can cue up a station based on a song, artist, era or genre, saying commands like, "Alexa, play '80s music" or "Alexa, play the playlist Pop Culture."

Google on Thursday launched a similar service for its Google Home smart speakers, letting users access an ad-supported free tier of YouTube Music.

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